The Indigenous campaign trail taught an Invermerian candidate some harsh realities about provincial politics.
Braydi Rice, 20, recently lost the Métis Nation of B.C. (MNBC)’s provincial election for the provincial youth chair opportunity with 178 votes.
Her opponent Shaughn Davoren won the MNBC youth B.C. chair position with a total of 209 votes from the 30 and under demographic.
But in retrospect, Rice believes the opportunity to campaign for a provincial position came with lots of valuable lessons learned from her experiences.
“I will be submitting a letter to my president and region #4 (Kootenay) director elect (at MNBC) Debra Fisher to submit to the board,” said Rice, noting the election process did not provide the same information to each candidate at the same time. “I’m not asking for an appeal. Just to have concerns addressed so that MNBC can ensure what happened in the election is acknowledged and steps are made, so that it doesn’t occur for the next one.”
She alleges that MNBC provided candidates with contact information for each voter in the nominee’s region. In Rice’s situation, she hoped to receive the contact information for youth up to the age of 30.
“Election lists went out to each candidate… to contact all of the youth in B.C., but what ended up happening is that some people were basically given lists that also contained emails. I didn’t know about this until I received an email for the other candidate,” Rice explained. “I started asking questions, and it turns out that some people were given the list, and people had already received the ballots by the time that I did.”
She was disheartened by the process and alleges that Davoren received contact information for each youth’s email address. Rice indicated that she spent two days leaving messages with MNBC head office and the electoral officer at One Feather.
When asked for clarification about the election process from a candidate’s perspective, MNBC spokesman Nick Hosseinzadeh deferred comment from the nation and suggested questions about the election process would make the most sense for the electoral officer from One Feather to field.
Rice said that she messages left for the nation, as well as for the One Feather election services, but had not been contacted by either party as of Sept. 29.
Lawrence Lewis, entrepreneur of One Feather election services, was unavailable for comment before the Pioneer went to press.
“There was just so much effort putting my name forward. It was so draining and I don’t know that I could physically put myself through that again,” Rice said about her experience as a provincial candidate for youth.
Rice said it was a difficult lesson to learn, but she hoped to raise awareness about the political snafu, so that future elections could run more efficiently.
“The biggest thing for me is that I want it to be known what happened here,” Rice said by phone. “We’re going to have an election again in four years, and this cannot happen again. This was completely unjust and unfair. We should be able to hold an election. I honestly don’t understand how this new election is going forward when so much went on beyond the scenes.”
However, she believes the outcome of this election has opened her eyes more widely to the state of politics in a broader sense. Rice admits that her critical thinking skills deepened after participating in a provincial election.
“I think the biggest thing that I took away was that I was a little bit naive, thinking that this election would be different somehow from other larger elections, in that politics is politics, whether you’re in Métis provincial election or in a federal election,” she said. “I was very naive, thinking I was so close with everyone, and thinking everyone is friends, but that’s just what was said publicly, but that’s not true.”
Going forward, Rice hopes the submissions which outline her concerns are evaluated carefully at the nation-level, so that changes can be adopted to improve the process for future elections and candidates. While Rice anticipates that she will no longer be of age to run for the provincial youth chair in the next MNBC election, she hasn’t ruled out other opportunities.
“I still want to encourage as many youths as possible to be involved with our Metis politics,” said Rice. “For myself, I guess I’ve realized the unfortunate parts, and I hope there’s change for that in the future.”