|July 9th, 2012 by Student Vote||Leave Comments »|
The race for the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief is heating up. In preparation for the 33rd Annual General Assembly, several new Regional Chiefs have been elected to represent their provinces and territories.
On June 27th, Chief Stan Beardy was elected at the All Ontario Chiefs Conference in Thunder Bay to the position of Regional Chief of Ontario. In Burwash Landing, Chief Mike Smith was elected the Regional Chief of Yukon Territory on June 28th. These two Regional Chiefs will join their fellow 8 regional representatives as the Assembly of First Nations Executive.
There has been considerable debate and discussion so far in the race for National Chief. The sheer number of candidates in this election may prove that it is a divisive time within Canadian First Nations communities. There has been criticism of the voting system, given that only Chiefs of reserves vote on the National Chief. Critics argue that with a rising population of First Nations living off-reserve, these voting chiefs do not represent their interests.
Furthermore, there has been criticism of current National Chief Shawn Atleo. He has been accused of being “too cozy” with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and not fighting hard enough on treaties and equal rights. However, his supporters say he is laying the groundwork for positive partnerships to move forward on his next term.
Another contentious issue was the Crown-First Nations gathering in January 2012. To some, it was a historic move for the relationship between First Nations and the government. To others in the Aboriginal community, it was merely a “photo-op” with few results.
Other candidates have begun to make statements regarding their platforms and goals if they were to be elected National Chief. Terrence Nelson, who served 5 terms as Chief of Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation, proclaimed that the controversial Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project “is dead” if he is elected National Chief.
Dianne Kelly says she is well informed on “the spirit and intent of treaty rights” and will champion those, as well as the rights of self-determination of the First Nations.
Professor Pam Palmater declared that she would move the AFN back to its original charter position as a strong advocacy and voice for First Nations issues, and veer away from the “colonization” of the First Nations.
The AFN’s system of voting declares that the winner must receive 60% support on the ballot. If this is not achieved, it goes to another ballot, eliminating those with less than 15% support. With a high number of candidates, there is a possibility it could be a long election process.
The Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) announced yesterday that they will be providing live coverage of the Assembly of the First Nations general assembly across the network and online. There will be continuous coverage of the election, no matter what time it happens. The assembly will be held at Toronto’s Metro Convention Centre from July 17-19th.
Keep checking back here for more updates on the AFN election! For more information regarding events during the assembly, click here.
Megan (CIVIX Intern)
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