The Squamish Nation Council Governance Policy provides a comprehensive framework that formalizes Council members’ individual and collective roles, responsibilities, and activities to ensure the effective, accountable and transparent governance of the Squamish Nation.
The Council Governance Policy was first approved by Council motion on May 21, 2015, and was amended several times throughout 2017 and 2018.
On February 26, 2019, Council passed a motion calling for a review of the Council Governance Policy, and also approving a budget and work plan for community consultation on the policy. The review will involve a formal legal review of the Council Governance Policy to bring it in line with the Election and Referendum Law (2018) and the new Financial Administration By-Law, 2019, as well as a review by, and recommendations from, the Governance Committee. The Governance Committee will also seek feedback from the Squamish Nation member community around possible revisions to the Council Governance Policy though; community meetings on the North Shore, the Squamish Valley, and off-reserve; an online survey; and discussion groups. The Governance Committee will compile feedback and return to Council with a summary report.
The Squamish Nation Financial Administration By-law, 2019 was approved by Council on May 16, 2019.
The Financial Administration By-law is a set of governance and finance practices that informs decision-making by Council and staff with regard to financial matters. The Financial Administration By-law covers administration, financial management (including financial plans and budgets, expenditures, borrowing, risk management, financial reporting, and information technology), capital projects and asset management, and more.
Prior to approval by Council, the First Nations Financial Management Board (FMB) conducted a formal review of the Financial Administration By-law and issued a compliance opinion stating that the by-law is in compliance with the FMB Financial Administration Law Standards and meets the relevant eligibility criteria of the Government of Canada’s Policy on Transfer Payments.
On December 18th, 2018, the Squamish Nation Council voted to formally approve and accept the decision of the Squamish Nation Members’ referendum on Election Reform that took place on December 6th, 2018. This approval marks the most significant and comprehensive change to Squamish Nation’s elections and governance since 1981.
The referendum included in-person voting, online voting, and mail-in ballots.
Highlights of changes to the Squamish Nation Council structure and criteria that will come into effect with the next scheduled Council election in 2021 include:
• eight elected Councillors plus one elected Chair (instead of sixteen elected Councillors, with two Co-Chairs elected internally by Councillors);
• designated Councillors from Squamish Valley, the North Shore, and outside of the communities;
• a ban on outside money in candidate campaigns, including a ban on union or corporate donations;
• candidacy requirements to be eligible to run for Council.
The Squamish Nation Election and Referendum Law, 2018, which was approved by Membership through the referendum, also includes a new citizen initiative whereby Squamish Members will have the authority to call for a referendum on subjects of their choosing.
As part of the new Squamish Nation Election & Referendum Law, Members will have the option of voting by mail-in ballot or electronic (online) polls, in addition to in-person. This important approved change will end the discrimination of off-reserve members by allowing Members to cast a vote in Council elections regardless of where they are situated.
The proposed changes came out of the largest-ever consultation and engagement initiative with Squamish Nation membership over two years, led by a committee of Members called the Squamish Nation Electoral Commission.
The newly-approved Squamish Nation Election & Referendum Law will be implemented for the next scheduled election in 2021, as per Section 1.2.2 of the Law.
Elections for Council from 1981 to 2017 were run under the 1981 Election Regulations, which became outdated over time.