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Shawn with Steven Harper.
NEWS RELEASE · 26th May 2012
The Canadian Press
First Nations politics are about to get a lot more interesting.

The current national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Shawn Atleo, is going to officially launch his campaign for re-election in Vancouver later today.

As the incumbent and with a strong base in British Columbia, Atleo is by far the front runner for the elections to be held July 18 in Toronto.

But the race won’t be a boring one.

Atleo will be challenged by Terry Nelson, a Manitoba chief who has garnered attention by flirting with Iran – a long shot.

He may face a more serious challenge in Bill Erasmus, who has been the regional chief for Northwest Territories for almost two decades.

The wild card is political pundit Pam Palmater, a Mi’kmaw lawyer and Toronto professor who has never been elected, but who has a large grassroots following.

She is also a woman running for a position that has always been held by a man; and she has never been a chief — making her a renegade candidate in a race that will set the tone for First Nations-federal government relations for the next three years.

Palmater informally launched a grassroots Twitter campaign last weekend, and is now exploring campaign financing.

Central to her pitch is criticism of Atleo’s approach to dealing with the federal government.

“It is no secret that I think Atleo's path is by far one of most dangerous one ever proposed by a national chief,” she writes on her most recent blog posting.

“The fact that it is endorsed by the most right-wing government in recent years is also cause for concern. I honestly believe that the current ‘joint action plan’ between Canada and Atleo-led AFN appears is a formula for assimilation.”

Atleo has made improvements to First Nations education the centrepiece of his three-year tenure at the helm of the AFN.

But while there is no disagreement that better education is important for First Nations, his approach has attracted controversy.

He agreed to a joint action plan with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, setting up a task force that produced recommendations on education, and also led to a summit with chiefs, Harper and cabinet ministers.

But several key First Nations groups refused to meet with the education task force, saying they had had enough of reports and wanted action. And several more chiefs expressed their disappointment in the lack of outcomes at the summit, as well as the level of funding First Nations education received in the spring federal budget.

Palmater’s criticisms may well resonate with First Nations people, but to win the title of national chief, she will need the votes of chiefs from regions across the country.

Candidates for national chief need to be nominated by June 12.

Regardless, the next First Nations leader will need to deal closely with the Harper government, since it is planning legislation on clean water and private land ownership, and is also pushing to conclude numerous comprehensive land claim negotiations.

Plus, the election comes at a time of restlessness in many First Nations communities that are disgruntled about changes to environmental assessment and fisheries, and are leery of natural resource development and pipelines across their traditional lands.

CBC Interview

More on Bill

More on Pam


More on Terry
Terry Nelson.
Terry Nelson.
Bill Erasmus.
Bill Erasmus.
Pam Palmater.
Pam Palmater.
Organize a Tsimshian meeting?
Comment by Tsimshian Indian on 29th May 2012
The only method to overcome nepetism is organize a true delagation Tsimshian Nation feasting movement.

All simiogets have power. The tools are at your disposal in the Tsimshian Nation.

Example a Waap Eagle House in the Tsimshian Nation has rights by the adawk there house story. Representing the ayawk or ayook Indigenous laws.

To call a hereditary feast for all the Eagle simiogets in the North Coast. To meet in kitsumkalum. Then have a table for all Eagles in perfect row.

The other clans Ravens, Wolfs, Killerwhale have there tables. All organized.

This identify origin kinship of each hereditary families brothers and sisters to each Waap.

Since the Eagles are organizing the meeting, working with other clans. Have a open mic discussion on the solutions and education forum on ancient history.

As witness in the Tsimshian Gitsemgallum feast. Our leadership. The Raven chief said he did not know how to feast. That gitsemgallum lost it for 2 generations.

So how are people to learn if no one knows or chooses not to know. Our society continue to swirl in a river eddy and never break free.

There are heros, winners.

There are braves of honor.

Right now we need leadership from a chiefs house, to show an example.

Not wait for another death feast. We need a true positive feast. From a true delagation to test themselves.

The chiefs competitive needs to come back.

So who will build a legacy.

Cause if I were a hereditary chief. Which I am not. That is the method of approach.

Only reason of learning. Is from the teaching of our past elders. Who got along with another.

Its there grandchildren are misplaced of knowledge due to the impacts of Indian Residendential Schools. That transformed 3 generations into today's society.

So who is going to lead the people back into power of inspiration.

Janice you have all the power. All that energy you pour on here. The power to work with all the Eagles to call such a feast. The power to call the Tsimshian Guardians. The power to call the Tsimshian Nation.


Thank you


Tsimshian Indian Commener.

I am learning.
Comment by Janice Robinson on 28th May 2012
Thankyou all for sharing this information. If this is true, I think the mayors of our bands should be accountable to the peasants regarding the decisions they make, the votes they cast, and the money they spend "on our behalf."

How would you all feel if the city of Terrace was populated (through crafty social engineering) by 70% of the current mayor's relatives (include in-laws)? How would you feel if Terrace City Council was lousy with his relatives (include in-laws)? How would you feel if you were witnessing the mayor and council grooming one of their/his nephews to follow? What would you think.....if all the top administrative jobs, at city hall, were filled by the mayor's relatives (include in-laws), and close friends? What would you say if your mayor and council opened their pockets, and gave Enbridge a hug, a wink and YOUR support without your knowledge?

What would you do if you could see no end in sight to this nepotism? It's their culture, and way of life now.
The Chiefs of all Indian Bands are voters.
Comment by Tsimshian Indian on 27th May 2012
All band chiefs are canidates to vote for national chief.
In response
Comment by Terrace Daily on 27th May 2012
Every three years the "Chiefs-in-Assembly" vote to determine who will be their AFN (Assembly of First Nations) national chief. No-where online can we find a list of who these people are. It is much like the Terrace and District Chamber of Commerce who refuses to publish and reveal their membership list.

The Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) has their 'Chiefs-in-Assembly' as well, but as with the AFN they do not seem to have this list publicly available. If it is, the search engines on their sites do not come up with results revealing a list of names and bands.

Please let us know if you can find a list of who actually represents the Indians in these elected organizations.

Dear Terrace Daily:
Comment by Janice Robinson on 27th May 2012
Is it feasible for you to publish a list of all regional representatives to the AFN, who are eligible to vote in this election. I believe that the Tsimshian representative(s) are NOT elected, and may be appointed by their friends and/or cohorts from the treaty world to attend AFN functions (maybe they even take turns. Who knows?). If so, this would put them in an embarrassing situation of political conflict.

This would be a good time to lift all regional, First Nations' politics out from under the table. Transparency and accountability, open/free discussions and debate would be a good thing about now.
Vote Terry Nelson
Comment by Tsimshian Indian on 27th May 2012
Vote Terry Nelson