Voting is finally underway for the Sliammon First Nation after a court ruling ensured polling stations would remain open.
The first attempt came on June 16, but protesters formed a blockade to prevent voters on the Sunshine Coast near Powell River from deciding a historic treaty with federal and provincial governments.
On Monday, the B.C. Supreme Court upheld a June 22 injunction stopping the Protectors of Sliammon Sovereignty from holding up Tuesday’s referendum.
Chief Clint Williams, who has publicly supported the treaty and the court injunction, said he was unable to predict the result.
“The larger part of the Sliammon community are a silent majority, where they’re not out there creating havoc. A lot of the people in Sliammon will sit back and let their ballot do the speaking. I really don’t know what to expect,” Williams said.
Williams said he cast his ballot when the polls opened at 10 a.m. and voting was going smoothly so far. He said RCMP officers were patrolling the area as well.
Voting ends at 8 p.m. with a result expected within a few hours. About 600 people had registered to vote.
The group of protesters have alleged the vote was tainted by ineligible voters and bribery.
The treaty has been in negotiations for more than a decade. If ratified, it would give band members 8,300 hectares of land, self-government and $30 million.
Opponents argue it could prevent the band from making future land claims.