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On this Day in Our History: Beaver First Nation ratifies referendum vote to split

Sept. 16, 1999

The referendum decision to split a single Alberta First Nation into two was ratified on Sept. 16, 1999, but the vote came with considerable controversy.

According to the chief of Beaver First Nation at the time, the majority of his people voted to separate two reserves, located about 20 miles east of High Level, into separate nations. Boyer River reserve was said to have been where the referendum took place.

A councillor with Child Lake reserve, however, said the results of the vote were meaningless, because only a minority of eligible voters participated. Most of the band members did not want the vote, she said. Child Lake members boycotted a pre-referendum meeting on their reserve, and the referendum itself.

The councillor explained there are 150 on-reserve members eligible to vote between the two reserves, 72 of them in Boyer River. To be successful, a referendum to split required a majority, or 50 per cent plus one, to be successful, but only 36 people voted in favor of the split; 6 voted no and there was one spoiled ballot. These ballot numbers were confirmed by the information on record at Indian Affairs.:

http://ammsa.com/publications/alberta-sweetgrass/controversy-surrounds-beaver-first-nations-vote-split-0

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