First Nations Governments are formed by a Chief and Councillors who are responsible for making decisions on behalf of the First Nation and its members. The election of a Chief and Councillors can be held in one of three ways:

  • by following the steps outlined in the Indian Act and the Indian Band Election Regulations
  • by following the First Nation’s own leadership selection process under a community or custom election code
  • pursuant to a community’s constitution contained in a self-government agreement

Currently, of the 617 First Nations in Canada, 240 hold elections under the Indian Act and the Indian Band Election Regulations, 341 select their leadership according to their own community or custom election codes and 36 are self-governing.

Curve Lake First Nation has adopted its own custom election code after a community approval vote on Saturday September 12th, 2015. The custom election code will go into effect at the next upcoming election in 2016, and elections will take place every three (3) years, in accordance with the newly adopted Curve Lake First Nation Leadership Selection Code


Curve Lake First Nation begun the development of a custom election code in early 2013, through the hiring of Shagi Consulting Services to facilitate the project. Over the two year period there was a survey that was circulated to all members, along with many community meetings hosted seeking input on what the community wanted in a custom election code. After all the information was collected, the consultants and Council produced the proposed Leadership Selection Code for Curve Lake First Nation, which was adopted through a community approval vote on the Saturday September 12th, 2015.

The current federal government has, in recent years, made many modifications/adjustments to laws that affect First Nation people. Although a few may be positive to our community, many have significant impacts to the way we live our lives. Our election process is now our very own, we are no longer under the section 74 of the Indian Act. Our election process was developed and approved by our community and will come into effect at the next election in 2016.

What Is A Custom Election Code?

A Custom Election Code is, in its simplest definition, is a First Nation election that takes place and section 74 of the Indian Act does not apply. A custom election conditions is developed by the community and includes clauses specifying the community’s desires.

Section 74 of the Indian Act

CLFN Leadership Selection Code

For the most part, voting will be exactly as in the past with the same rules and processes we are used to and trust. None of the verification processes or voting procedures have changed. So, what has changed?

The Term of Office

The term of office has been extended from two years (AANDC process) to three years (Curve Lake tradition). Prior to the Indian Act, it has been documented that Curve Lake’s traditional Term of Office was three years. From the next election forward, the term of office will be 3 years if approved.

Nomination Meeting

This section states that although someone can be nominated for both Chief and Councillor, the person nominated must declare which position they intend to run for prior to the election. In other words, a candidate would not be allowed to run for both Chief and Councillor in an election, be elected in both and then choose what position they want to take. The candidate MUST choose which they intend to challenge for before the ballots are prepared. This change is intended to remove the absurdity that a voter can vote for the same person for Chief and for Councillor positions in the same election. This “double vote” creates an unfair situation that results in votes being counted in an election that otherwise wouldn’t be there.

Election Appeals

This is an important change. AANDC will no longer be involved in our appeal process. Appeals will be moderated by an Appeal Review Board made up of three (3) representatives to work with the appellant to assess the appeal. No successful or unsuccessful candidates in this particular election process, nor a “Related Person” shall be a member of the Appeal Review Board.

This new appeal process is intended to be fair, quick, unbiased and most importantly controlled by our community and not the federal government.