A Custom Election Law is a law that is made by Tsawout for Tsawout. It sets out how the top level of our Tsawout Government will be structured, how our leadership will be selected, how long they will hold their seats in office for, who will be eligible to hold leadership positions, and how those leaders will be accountable to the community.
A Custom Election Law is different from the Indian Act because it sets out clear expectations and procedures for how our leaders will govern us, and what will happen if they are unable or unwilling to fulfill their roles. It gives us the power as a community to make decisions about our leadership. Under the Indian Act, much of this power still lies with the Minister of Indigenous Services Canada, who for the most part takes a hands off approach to helping us make sure our government is functioning how it should be.
We decide who our leaders will be and how long their terms in office will be set for
We set out a clear mandate to our leaders about what we expect of them, and we create a clear and fair process for how they keep us informed of their activities
We decide what types of activities call for accountability, and we decide what that accountability looks like. We can ensure that all matters regarding accountability align with our values, customs, and traditions as Indigenous peoples, with a focus on:
NEȾOLṈEW̱ / Nutsa’ maat shqwaluwun (one heart, one mind)
ÁTOȽ (Respect for the rights of others)
U SṮOṮEMTES (Reciprocity)
ÍY ŚW̱ḰÁLEȻEN and SDIWIEȽ (good intentions and prayer)
We will create our own rules in the Custom Election Law around how amendments can be made to it. If it doesn’t work for us, we will always have the option of amending it in accordance with the rules that we set out around amendments.
The Minister of Indigenous Services Canada will retain the power under section 74 of the Indian Act to declare that Tsawout Chief and Council be selected by elections held in accordance with the Indian Act, if he or she deems it advisable for the good government of Tsawout to do so. If our Custom Election Law “doesn’t work” for us, we could ask the Minister to make such an order but he or she will not be required to do so at our request.