The new Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA) is working on transition from being a society to a government. The next step is the first general election of the Otipemisiwak Métis Government Citizens’ Council.
The election is September 13 to 19. MNA citizens can vote online, in person or by mail.
There are various changes, but the biggest is the change from regions to zones. In the old system, Slave Lake, High Prairie, Wabasca, and all communities in between were in Region 5. Now, Slave Lake and High Prairie are in District 21 – Lesser Slave Lake. Wabasca is in District 22 – Wabasca-Desmarais.
The new Otipemisiwak Métis Government citizen’s council will be made up of three provincial and 22 citizen representatives.
This is part of the MNA’s journey toward self-government.
In the fall of 2022, the MNA citizens ratified a constitution, which allows for the formation of the Otipemisiwak Métis Government.
The new citizen representatives will have a different job than the regional presidents and vice presidents.
“In my mind, it’s more like an MLA,” says Bev New, former Region 5 president and District 21 citizen’s representative candidate.
The citizens’ council makes decisions on policies, programs, and proposes laws, just like the Canadian parliament and legislative assembly.
District 21 includes Slave Lake, High Prairie, Swan Hills, Fox Creek, East Prairie Métis Settlement, Peavine Métis Settlement, Gift Lake Métis Settlement, and communities in between. Bev New and Grant Lacombe are running for District 21.
“I’m originally from Faust,” says Bev New. “I grew up with (Métis) politics at the kitchen table, my entire life.”
New’s dad was involved in Métis politics when she was a kid. New joined the MNA in 1993.
From 1996 to 1999, New managed the Métis employment offices in Slave Lake and High Prairie.
“I was the (Region 5) president from 1999 to 2018,” says New.
From 2018 to now has been on her family. However, she stayed connected with the MNA. From 2018 to 2023, New was the executive director of S11 Logging, which is a partnership between Region 5, Bigstone Cree Nation, and Peerless Trout First Nation.
New brought S11 from being in debt to turning a profit, she says.
“I’m really happy that I was home for five years,” says New. “I’ve had a good break for five years. I’m ready to work hard again.”
Asked about her platform, New says, “the entire platform right now is building our government.”
Part of this is making sure that the District 21 Métis citizens know what is going on and are able to be involved in the process.
“We need to make sure it’s done by the people for the people,” she says.
With this in mind, New completed a course on online communication and marketing.
If she is elected, New says part of her role will “be the support to ensure that our district is getting a fair share in the programming of the Otipemisiwak government, Métis Nation.”
This includes people living on the Métis settlements. If elected, New plans “to sit with the settlements to work together.”
Grant Lacombe’s ad in the August 30 Lakeside Leader and South Peace News, says, his platform is “elder care, harvesting, youth education, and transparency.” His motto is “Vote for positive change.” The ad describes him as “35 years in oil and gas, business owner for 10 years. 5.5 years at Northern Lakes College.”
The Leader reached out for an interview, but he was too busy.
Only one person ran for District 22. Nancy Margaret Cardinal was elected by acclamation.
After the election, The Leader will reach out to the MNA to organize an interview. The Region 5 office and Wabasca Metis Local did not have contact information for her.
All Métis citizens can vote for the three provincial representatives. Two people are running for president – Andrea Sandmaier and Joseph Pimlott. The other two positions are women’s representative (Tai Amy Grauman) and youth representative (Rebecca Lavallee) were filled by acclamation.
Andrea Sandmaier is running for Otipemisiwak Métis president to “help move the nation forward,” she says. “To move our nation forward to be sustainable.”
This desire comes out of talking to Métis citizens of all ages in her five years as MNA Region 2 vice-president. In this role, she’s also been involved with the New Dawn Métis society to bring wellness events for women, and on the board of an Indigenous addictions rehabilitation centre.
Tragically, two Métis men were murdered in Region 2 a few years ago. Sandmaier stepped up to support and advocate for the victims’ family.
“Out of that, I saw a lot of racism, systemic racism, within the justice system,” she says. “The Métis Nation is working on a justice strategy, right now.”
Sandmaier lives in Cold Lake. She was born there and raised in Stony Plain. When her three sons were younger, she and her husband moved back to Cold Lake to raise them in a smaller area. They are now grown. Her background is in banking.
“My passion has always been community service,” says Sandmaier.
Sandmaier’s platform is available at www.andreaforpresident.ca.
“I’ve really devoted my time in the last decade and a half to my community,” says Pimlott. “And I’m not stopping.”
In 2008, Pimlott was asked by MNA Region 3 to organize some events at the annual general assembly. This started a long relationship between him and the MNA. This includes being a MNA Region 3 youth and FASD coordinator, involvement with the Métis local, Region 3 vice-president for three years starting in 2011, and provincial vice-president for 15 months starting in 2014. Pimlott had to step down for family reasons. In 2014, he started as executive director of a Native Friendship Centre in Calgary.
He says, “I believe all the experience I’ve had since then, has given me the ability to run for president.”
Pimlott was born on Vancouver Island. His family are Métis and come from St. Boniface in Winnipeg, Manitoba. When was about 12 or 13, he moved to Calgary. He’s been there for 37 years. He has a wife, three kids, and two grandkids.
Pimlott’s platform is available at www.josephpilmott4president.ca.
District 21 polls will be in Slave Lake and High Prairie. As of August 31, www.metiselectionsab.com/generalelection.