Ryan Reynolds and Paul McCartney appointed Chief of Walpole Island First Nation

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The Walpole Island First Nation in southwestern Ontario is seeking to remove Ryan Reynolds and Paul McCartney from their candidacy for chief after community members named the two celebrities.Under the Indian Act, First Nations can elect a non-native as their chief, although according to James Jenkins, Walpole Island operations manager, this is quite rare.

Jenkins said he was unaware that non-natives, including celebrities, had been elected in the past, but believes there may have been other instances in Canadian Indigenous communities where a non-member was on the ballot.

The exception would be when Walpole Island was first elected in 1868, he said, when a government bureaucrat took the job.

The Indian Act, Jenkins said, has virtually no eligibility requirements for chief, which allows anyone to be appointed and elected.

This is one of the reasons why the people of Walpole Island pursue their own constitution so that they do not have to operate under the Indian Act and can more easily implement the eligibility criteria for future chiefs. .

“Some people are tickled by it”

Walpole Island council members are working to contact Reynolds and McCartney. If they can’t before 4 p.m. Thursday, both candidates will be removed from their candidacy, Jenkins said.

Indigenous Services Canada and the local electoral officer for the area were contacted for help, he said.

CBC News has contacted Reynolds and McCartney but has not received a response.

Walpole Island First Nation Director of Operations James Jenkins says electing a non-Indigenous person as chief is rare for First Nations communities. (Tahmina Aziz / CBC)

“As an official in the organization, I have withheld judgment, but I’m trying to make sure that we are doing our best to provide good service to members for the election,” Jenkins said.

As for those in the community, he said opinions are varied.

“Some people are tickled by this and others probably think it could have an impact on the sanctity of the electoral process,” he said. “A lot of people find the electoral process to be a very important part of governance in the First Nation, so we try to do our best to support the membership.

Jenkins said he was not sure the appointments would jeopardize the process, but believes if a candidate is unaware of their position, their name should be removed from the process.

The September 19 election currently has 12 chief candidates, including Reynolds and McCartney, and about 80 council candidates.

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