Thursday, July 23, 2009

British Columbia Chief becomes head of Assembly of First Nations

A hereditary chief from Ahousaht on the west coast of Vancouver Island survived a marathon voting session in Calgary on Thursday, to emerge as the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations.

Shawn Atleo, became the first British Columbia chief to head the national organization, after he emerged victorious on the eighth ballot of a voting session that spanned two days.

Chief Atleo quickly called for unity after his victory over the long tiring process with Perry Bellegarde, the two had split the vote for the majority of the twenty four hours that it took to come to a decision, and at that it took a concession from Bellegarde after ballot number six to settle the matter, as Chief Atleo still had come two percent short of the required 60 per cent majority for a win.

The nature of the lengthy voting process and an apparent split between treaty and non treaty First Nations quickly became the main talking points once the election results were tabulated. With many suggesting that an overhaul of the voting procedures was needed and future discussion was needed on a better method of moving events further faster.

For the new Chief the workload will come fast, as he picks up the files from now past chief Phil Fontaine, who had served three previous terms as head of the Assembly.

At 42, Chief Atleo will be the youngest head of the AFN and has offered up a path for the 700,000 Frist Nations members that the AFN represents, in his campaign he outlined his plans to build upon his work in British Columbia on behalf of the Ahousaht as a template for where he would like to move the AFN towards.

One thing seems clear from the debates and discussions of the week, the AFN will become much more of an activist organization, more demanding of Ottawa and the provinces in their goals towards rebuilding and restoring an authentic aboriginal identity.

Calgary Herald-- Change of 'generational guard' excites observers
CBC-- Atleo sworn in as AFN national chief
CBC-- A short agenda for Canada's newest national chief
Photo above from the Calgary Herald website..

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