Supporting First Nations through Custom Election Code Initiatives

Supporting First Nations through Custom Election Code Initiatives

EcoPlan International is excited to share our work in helping First Nations communities run their own elections. We’ve been supporting several communities in their effort to  decide how they want to run their elections instead of having to follow the rules set by the Indian Act. This means they can make their elections more fitting to their culture and community.   Custom Election Codes (CECs) are instruments that allow First Nations to develop and implement their own election systems, bypassing the confines of the Indian Act and ensuring a more culturally-relevant, transparent, and accountable process. By developing a CEC, a community takes the crucial step in asserting its sovereignty and tailoring electoral processes to its unique needs and cultural practices.

Our involvement in the Custom Election Code initiatives has been two-fold:

  1. Examination of Existing Codes: We looked at more than a dozen Custom Election Codes from different First Nations to see what works well and what doesn’t. This helped us understand what could be good to include in new Election Codes.
  2. Community, Staff, and Council Engagement: Recognizing the complex and sensitive nature of this initiative, EcoPlan adopted a comprehensive and participatory approach that was geared to reach everyone. We facilitated sessions between community members, staff, and council to foster open dialogue and collaboration. Our methods ranged from workshops, surveys, to focused group discussions. Of course not everyone always agrees. Our approach is based on structured decision support (SDS) that separates facts from values, people from the problem and focuses on the reasons behind disagreements in order to reach a positive way forward. By encouraging active participation, we aimed to ensure that the community understood the issues and their voices were heard and incorporated into the development of the Custom Election Codes.


Key Highlights and Outcomes:

  • Bespoke Solutions: Our research and engagement efforts culminated in supporting the development of two Custom Election Codes tailored to meet the specific needs and cultural nuances of each First Nation community involved.
  • Empowerment through Knowledge Sharing: By comparing and analyzing existing Election Codes, we were able to share knowledge and insights that empowered the communities to make informed decisions regarding their own electoral processes.
  • Strengthened Community Ties: The engagement sessions served as a platform for community bonding and consensus building, ensuring a collective vision and shared goals.
  • Sustainability and Autonomy: The initiatives underscored our commitment to sustainable development by enabling First Nations to take ownership of their electoral processes, fostering autonomy and resilience.

EcoPlan International continues to stand as an ally and partner to First Nations communities, contributing to initiatives that support self-determination, sustainable development, and cultural preservation. Our involvement in the Custom Election Code initiatives underscores our belief in a future where indigenous communities are empowered to carve their own paths, ensuring a legacy of resilience, autonomy, and prosperity for generations to come.