AFN National Chief Candidates Forum – Live at 5pm central | July 18th
Asserting sovereignty and providing better representation for the grassroots are two issues that have come up in the race for National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations.
Nearly 640 chiefs or proxies will vote on July 25 in Vancouver for who they believe will represent First Nations interests in Ottawa.
APTN News will have coverage of the assembly starting Tuesday July 24.
Check back here for the news from the election campaign.
Meet the Candidates
The incumbent from Little Black Bear First Nation in Saskatchewan is vying for his second term as National Chief. While on the campaign trail, he has touted the $17 billion in pledged federal funding over seven years he helped secure for First Nations housing, child welfare and education. But he acknowledges there are still gaps between First Nations the rest of Canada.
“We’ve got momentum, but we’re not done yet,” he told APTN News.
A policy analyst from the Mohawk community of Kahnawake, Que., Diabo has worked for two past chiefs of the AFN – and been a vocal critic of the organization. He said he’s running to fundamentally reform the AFN and stand up to the Trudeau government’s proposed Indigenous legal rights framework. Diabo says the government is unilaterally defining Indigenous rights without consulting with First Nations.
“I think the National Chief has failed to keep control of the process,” he told APTN News. “He’s basically been a cheerleader for this government.”
Originally from Bunibonibee Cree Nation (Oxford House), North was the first woman elected grand chief of the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) in 2015. She’s also known for her advocacy work on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
If elected, North says she will work on bringing grassroots voices to the forefront of the AFN.
“We have to be accountable to our communities and our families, ultimately, our women and children. If they’re not safe, then none of us should be happy.”
The former president of the Haida Nation in B.C. believes the Assembly of First Nations is not a government, but a means of uniting Nations across the country. He believes the Indian Act is colonial and putting Indigenous peoples in “an increasingly acute crisis.”
“I believe we need to choose a new direction,” he told APTN News.
In 2007, Richardson was named to the Order of Canada.
As the former AFN regional chief for Manitoba, Whitecloud has worked on national portfolios including child welfare, education and languages. She also served as chief and councilor of the Wipazoka Wakpa Dakota Nation in Manitoba.
She said First Nations need to look beyond funding gaps and policies. They need to focus on nationhood.
“Funding is just a Band-Aid for what it is that we need to do as a people to move forward as a people.”