Voting on the Stó:lō constitution was last November across the Fraser Valley in six villages. (SXTA)

Voting on the Stó:lō constitution was last November across the Fraser Valley in six villages. (SXTA)

Stólō communities that fell short of voter turnout on constitution working on next steps

‘Our process is still alive and requires ongoing work,’ said Chief Maureen Chapman

Only two of the the six Stó:lō communities reached voter thresholds in the vote last fall organized by Stó:lō Xwexwilmexw Treaty Association (SXTA).

Leadership says there is work to do in the remaining four communities.

This latest information on the 2020 constitutional vote on the Shxwelméxwelh (Constitution) of the Stó:lō Xwexwílmexw came in a Feb. 2, 2021 update from SXTA leadership.

“An overwhelming majority of those who voted, voted ‘yes’ but we did not meet the voter turnout goal that we had set for ourselves,” said Chief Maureen Chapman, SXTA president in the update.

Ahead of the vote, they established a set goal: a threshold of 50 per cent plus one of the eligible voters in each community – a simple majority.

“Two of our communities were able to achieve this goal and passed their referenda,” Chapman noted.

They were Áthelets (Aitchelitz) and Yeqwyeqwí:ws (Yakweakwioose).

While a majority of voters in the other four villages voted “yes” to the Shxwelméxwelh (Constitution), they didn’t reach the voter threshold, meaning not enough members voted.

RELATED: Draft constitution under discussion

Voting in November 2020 on the Shxwelméxwelh (Constitution) of the Stó:lō Xwexwílmexw took place in six Stó:lō Villages: Áthelets (Aitchelitz); Leq’á:mel, Sq’ewá:lxw (Skawahlook); Sq’ewqéyl (Skowkale), Ch’iyáqtel (Tzeachten); and Yeqwyeqwí:ws (Yakweakwioose).

The six Stó:lō communities had reached Stage 5 in the treaty process by last fall.

The SXTA team recognizes and respects the uniqueness of each member First Nation, she underlined.

“Together, the SXTA remains actively engaged in treaty negotiations and we remain strong in our commitment to working together. We greatly appreciate your commitment and interest in working toward a better future for our youth, communities, and future generations.”

Over the past two years, SXTA team hammered out a draft constitution to unify members. It was ratified by the Stó:lō leadership on the heels of consultation with membership, and went for a vote Nov. 4-14, 2020. It was meant to define who they are, where they come from, and how they will be governed once they get out from under the Indian Act, according to SXTA descriptions.

“Our process is still alive and requires ongoing work in the remaining four communities,” Chapman noted.

Now it’s up to the four that did not get enough votes to decide the next steps for each community.

“We are leaving it to each of the four communities who have yet to meet our voter turnout goals to determine what is best for them and their membership in taking their next steps.”

RELATED: Vote on constitution was last November

* This version has been corrected from the original to provide the two community names that hit the voter threshold goal: Áthelets (Aitchelitz) and Yeqwyeqwí:ws (Yakweakwioose).

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