Candidate disqualified from KSA general election

Diljot Narula was disqualified for running as Indigenous student rep when he could not provide a basis for the self-identification as an Indigenous student

The voting period for KSA's annual general election is Feb. 27 at 10:00 am until Feb. 28 at 9:00 pm. (File photo)

The voting period for KSA’s annual general election is Feb. 27 at 10:00 am until Feb. 28 at 9:00 pm. (File photo)

Diljot Narula, elected in the Kwantlen Student Association byelection as a business representative, was disqualified from the general election for running as an Indigenous student rep candidate. 

The constituency rep positions are students of colour, queer, international students, women, Indigenous, disabilities, and mature. Candidates must self-identify as a member of the constituency and indicate so on the nomination form. 

“It is clear to me that the intention behind the Eligibility Regulation is that members of certain historically marginalized or underrepresented constituencies should be assured representation on KSA’s Council and, importantly, that such representation should come from the membership of the relevant constituency group,” reads Chief Returning Officer Jared Nash’s report on the decision

Under the KSA Regulations, the CRO can “penalize any candidate and determine the appropriate penalty for campaigning in violation of the campaign rules … or for any other breach of the Electoral Regulations and any other election irregularity.” 

“It is obvious to me that the Eligibility Regulation requires that a candidate’s self-identified membership in a relevant constituency must be made in good faith,” reads the report. 

When notified about the complaint for running as Indigenous rep, Narula “raised that significant issues would arise if one were to call into question a person’s identity as a Queer student.” 

“In this matter, I am not required to consider an investigation into a person’s identity as a Queer student. Rather, the issue is whether I can investigate self-identification as an Indigenous person,” according to Nash’s report. 

The report notes that self-identification by individuals as Indigenous for personal gain has been an issue in national discourse in recent years, including universities and politicians. 

“While demanding Indigenous people prove that they are Indigenous has the potential to do further harm to a marginalized group, so too does allowing those with no legitimate claim to being Indigenous to usurp positions reserved for Indigenous people.” 

In the report, Nash said he emailed Narula about the basis for his self-identification after receiving the complaint. However, Narula did not provide a basis and only restated that he self-identifies as an Indigenous student. 

“Narula’s response focused on the unfairness of being questioned on his self-identification; his view that candidates for other constituency positions do not have to prove their eligibility; his position that he has met the requirement under the Eligibility Regulation by simply stating his self-identification; his desire to keep his identification and the handling of this complaint private and confidential; and concerns that others have publicly criticized him for running for the Indigenous Students Representative position,” reads the report. 

“I believe it would be unfair to the very students Narula seeks to represent, in the circumstances, for me not to take reasonable and minimally intrusive steps to seek to ensure that the Indigenous Student Representative position is reserved for those who self-identify in good faith as Indigenous students.” 

The report says the complainant noted that the position was reserved for Indigenous members, and allowing non-Indigenous members to sit in the position is unfair to the Indigenous community and “would create a precedent for non-Indigenous members running as candidates for this position.” 

In an interview with The Runner during the byelection, Narula said he came to KPU as an international student in 2017 and is now a domestic student.  

“Indigenous” is generally defined as a peoples in independent countries who are regarded as indigenous on account of their descent from the population that inhabited the country or geographical region. 

Narula did not respond to interview requests. 

The voting period for KSA’s annual general election is Feb. 27 at 10:00 am until Feb. 28 at 9:00 pm.