What with national elections, the death of Osama bin Laden and other hubbub, the election of Morley Googoo as the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) new regional chief for Nova Scotia–Newfoundland-Labrador went almost unnoticed outside his territory.
After what National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo described as a “brief transition period,” Googoo will resign as Waycobah First Nation chief and take the regional reigns for the AFN, the Cape Breton Post reported on May 4.
Googoo takes over from Chief Rick Simon, who stepped down after 17 years. The Cape Breton Post said Googoo was backed by 11 chiefs. Lindsay Marshall, a band councilor in Chapel Island, had two chiefs behind him, and former Membertou CEO Bernd Christmas had one.
Googoo told the newspaper that his new role will allow him to advance aboriginal issues through other avenues than he could as band chief.
“Being a chief for nine terms you know exactly what a lot of the issues are. You also know how a chief should be represented from being a chief myself,” he told the Cape Breton Post. “As a regional chief, it’s my job to know as many politicians, ministers, deputy ministers and staff in Ottawa. If there’s an issue in a community here that I represent, that I can be of assistance to that chief on his area’s concerns.”
Atleo called him a “strong leader” and noted his service as both chief of his community and co-chai of the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nation Chiefs.
“On behalf of the entire Assembly of First Nations, I want to congratulate Morley Googoo on becoming the new Regional Chief and welcome him as a new member of the AFN Executive Committee,” Atleo said in a statement on April 29. “I look forward to the opportunity to work with him and I know he will be a strong representative for his people and his region.”
The national chief also took the opportunity to thank Simon for his years of service.
“Rick Simon is a tireless worker and truly dedicated to his people,” Atleo said. “His assistance at the national level on key issues has been crucial and he has steered important files like economic development and fisheries. We have all learned from Rick and I know the entire AFN Executive benefited from his insight and experience. He will be missed but we wish him well in the next steps on his journey.”