First Nations chiefs gather in Toronto to elect chief at national assembly | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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First Nations chiefs gather in Toronto to elect chief at national assembly

Glen Hare ties a feather on a flag in preparation for the Eagle Staff Procession, in Toronto on Monday, July 16, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michelle Siu

TORONTO - The chiefs of Canada's First Nations are gathering in Toronto today for a national strategy session which will see them elect a national chief later in the week.

The Assembly of First Nations' annual general meeting will also see the chiefs hammer out a policy agenda for the coming months, with community infrastructure, security and child welfare issues expected to be key issues.

Eight candidates are vying to become the high-profile First Nations leader in the country, including incumbent Shawn Atleo, who is running for a second three-year term.

Resource revenue sharing is expected to be a common theme as the contenders look for support before a vote is held on Wednesday.

Some chiefs say they are tired of waiting for Ottawa to fix their problems and would rather use revenue from the development of natural resources to take control of their own affairs.

Atleo is up against a strong field of candidates, including two regional chiefs and four women.

The 45-year-old can claim a strong B.C. base of support, but some long-standing alliances are in flux. And AFN conventions are notorious for last-minute arm-twisting and unpredictable results.

Atleo is running on his record. He has spent the last three years travelling widely, visiting even the remotest of reserves and sitting down with chiefs, councils and regular people.

He is driving a campaign that highlights what he says is his ability to bring people together and focus on education, youth and empowering local chiefs.

But critics say Atleo has been too reluctant to criticize Ottawa over treaties and the treatment of native rights.

Atleo is set to address the AFN assembly today before all candidates running for the position of national chief take part in an open forum.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2012
The Canadian Press

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