Is the Assembly of First Nations With Its National Chief Part of the Problem or Solution?
When Shawn Atleo became the eleventh national chief of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) in 2009, many people saw the heralding of a new era of leadership and possible change. That era came to an abrupt end on May 2, 2014 with Atleo's resignation 14 months before the end of his term. His resignation was based on the intense controversy regarding his support for Bill C-33, the First Nations Control over First Nations Education Act that the majority of chiefs in Canada oppose. His resignation has people wondering what's next for AFN and who will be the next national chief.
According to the Charter of the Assembly of First Nations, the executive that comprises 10 regional chiefs collectively take over the role and function of the national chief until the Chiefs in Assembly decide next steps. The executive will need to convene a special chiefs meeting to call an election that would be for a full term of three years as opposed to a byelection for the remainder of the term. Ten weeks prior notice is needed to call such an election.
The AFN faces some major hurdles in the next few months. The first hurdle facing the chiefs and the next national chief is Bill C-33. Surprisingly, Monday morning, Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt announced that he is "putting Bill C-33 on hold until AFN clarifies its position on the legislation in the wake of the resignation of its national chief."
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