Shawn A-in-chut Atleo won a second three-year term as National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations on July 18, promising in a rousing speech to “put the stake in colonialism” and calling on all First Nations peoples to make their voices heard.
“We will work together, recognizing that we share inherent rights and title,” he said, adding that “this will be the moment” that today’s young people look back on as the turning point in which First Nations take back their rights, enforce the treaties and unite to work together.
Of the chiefs eligible to vote, Atleo got 341 votes, Mi’kmak lawyer and Ryerson University professor Pam Palmater, Eel River Bar First Nation, got 141. Bill Erasmus, National Chief of the Dene Nation, got 30, according to the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, which broadcast the proceedings. The vote was held three times because at first Atleo did not get the required 60 percent for a win, Yahoo News reported.
Atleo has faced criticism from within for what some feel is adherence to the status quo and a bit more acquiescence to the Conservative-majority government than some would like.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper congratulated Atleo on his win, saying he will continue to work with First Nations to improve conditions.
“The Government of Canada and First Nations have an enduring historic relationship based on mutual respect, friendship and support,” he said in a statement. “I look forward to continue working with National Chief Atleo to keep building solid partnerships between First Nations people and other Canadians, to the mutual benefit of us all.”
The AFN is holding its Annual General Assembly in Toronto, which runs through July 19.