By Clint Buehler
EDMONTON – When Alberta Metis go to the polls September 2 they will be selecting a Provincial Council far different than the one they have had for the past three years.
That’s not only because some members have chosen not to run again, but also because some have chosen to run against each other.
Most notable is three-term Provincial Vice-President Trevor Gladue’s decision to challenge Provincial President Audrey Poitras, who is seeking an unprecedented sixth term.
While the Metis Nation of Alberta (MNA) has made significant progress on several fronts under Poitras’ leadership, many members are critical of her focus on business and real estate development and say she has abandoned traditional Metis values.
Gladue has spent the past nine years tirelessly traveling the province, attending community events, connecting with grassroots members, and ensuring a Metis presence and profile in Alberta society at large. He has bided his time, building a loyal following with his decision to challenge Poitras now indicating he believes he has sufficient support to win.
Also seeking the presidency are Don Langford, longtime executive director of Metis Child and Family Services, and Alyse McLeod.
With Gladue vacating the provincial vice-presidency, two prominent Metis will be seeking to succeed him:
• Muriel Stanley Venne, who has decades of activism in the Aboriginal community, is also the founder of the Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women.
• Lyle Donald, a former interim Provincial President and Council member, also has been a leader in Metis cultural activities with his Edmonton Metis Cultural Dance Society that has performed across Canada for decades, and organizer of an annual Metis talent contest. He was also the organizer of “Kiyanaw,” the Aboriginal celebration at Edmonton’s Capital Ex summer fair.
Battles for leadership in each of the MNA’s six regions also have some interesting match-ups.
In Region 1 (Northeastern Alberta), incumbent President Ken Bourque, a former Provincial Vice-President, is being challenged by perennial unsuccessful candidate Wilfred (Pappy) Boucher and Bill Loutitt. Incumbent Vice-President Rick P. (Scotty) Boucher is being challenged by veteran Metis politician and activist Joe Blyan, who may still get in by acclamation because Boucher lost his position and MNA membership for conflict of interest, a decision upheld by the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench and being appealed by Boucher, which he says allows him to run.
In Region 2 (East Central Alberta), incumbent President Karen (KC) Collins and Vice-President Homer Poitras were not challenged and are re-elected by acclimation.
In Region 3 (Southern Alberta, including Red Deer, Calgary, Lethbridge and Medicine Hat) incumbent President Marlene Lanz is not running. Challenging for her position is Ephraim Bouvier, who held the position prior to an earlier unsuccessful run at the Provincial Vice-President position. Also running for that position is incumbent Vice-President Joe Chodzicki . Challengers for Chodzicki’s current position are Gloria Contois McGillis, Troy McLeod and Bev Weber.
In Region 4 (West Central Alberta, including Edmonton) incumbent President Cecil Bellrose is being challenged by incumbent Vice-President Tim Collins. The four challengers to replace Collins are James C. Atkinson, Sharon (Letendre) Pasula, Bruce Kenneth Plante and Dennis (Ike) Pruden.
In Region 5 (North Central Alberta) incumbent President Bev New is being challenged by Louis (Lilboy) Bellrose and Mickey R. Andrews, while incumbent Vice-President Elmer Gullion is being challenged by Nora (Andrews) Chapdelaine.
In Region 6 (Northwestern Alberta) Odell Flett, Brandy Mitchell and Cal Parenteau are for President’s position vacated by Sylvia Johnson, while Darlene D. Cardinal has been acclaimed as Vice-President, succeeding Louis Bellrose.
Qualified MNA members will vote at polls throughout the province, with the advance poll August 23, and the final vote September 2.