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St. John’s Qalipu member disappointed mail-in ballot didn’t arrive in time to vote

Elizabeth Sheppard Hewitt
Elizabeth Sheppard Hewitt - Contributed

Elizabeth Sheppard Hewitt is a founding member of the Qalipu First Nation who believes it’s important to be a part of the whole process.

That includes voting in the band’s election.

Unfortunately, Sheppard Hewitt didn’t receive her mail-in ballot in time to vote in Tuesday’s election.

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Originally from Corner Brook, Sheppard Hewitt has been living in St. John’s for 15 years.

Her interest in her family history goes back long before any of the status stuff came along. She started researching both sides of her family in 1994.

It was through that research that she coincidentally realized there was native ancestry in her family.

The link for her is through her grandmother, Marguerite Sheppard of Woody Point. Sheppard’s grandmother, Irene Compagnon, was Mi’kmaq.

“And so, as I started to learn about it I just wanted to understand more about the culture and the way that things had been for the generations before me. And to teach my children the things that I didn’t learn when I was a kid,” said Sheppard Hewitt.

She’s done more than learn about the culture, she’s gotten involved in and is currently the president of the St. John’s Mi’kmaq Women’s Circle.

Sheppard Hewitt voted in the past two Qalipu elections and as soon as the mail-in ballots for this one were available she put in her request. Registered in the Corner Brook Ward, she was looking forward to casting votes for ward councillor, western vice-chief and chief.

But the ballot never showed up, so two weeks ago she put in a second request and has been thinking every day since then that it would show up.

When last Thursday rolled around, she knew her opportunity to vote was gone. Even if she did receive it, there was no way to get to back in time for the Friday deadline.

She said there could have been a flood of requests to respond to or it could have been an issue with Canada Post.

“I’m disappointed. Because I want to be part of the process. I’m very invested in our culture and this organization.”

Sheppard Hewitt said there has to be a better way of giving members the opportunity to vote and she’s all for online voting.

She said she’s frustrated because she’s been following the election closely, listening to podcasts and staying up on things online in order to make her choices.

 “Being out here on the east coast we don’t get to go to the rallies, we don’t get to go to the ward meetings. I think it’s even more important for people not in the region to have a voice.

“When you don’t get to vote, you don’t get to have a say.”

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