AFN BULLETIN – August 2018

Published: Aug 15, 2018Bulletin

Update on 2018 AFN Annual General Assembly And Election for National Chief

Assembly of First Nations Annual General Assembly and Election for National Chief – July 24 to 26, 2018

The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) hosted the 39th Annual General Assembly (AGA) and election for National Chief in Vancouver, British Columbia on July 24 to 26 in the traditional territory of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. More than 2,400 Chiefs, Elders, youth and other delegates gathered at the AGA under the theme Working Together: Our Rights, Our Way, Our Future.

The AGA is an opportunity to provide First Nations Chiefs a forum to dialogue on fundamental issues and common interests affecting First Nations and discuss political strategy on key topics. This year, of course, was also an election year for AFN National Chief.

Each day began with a sunrise ceremony and pipe ceremony. The first day of the AGA started with an opening prayer, an address from National Chief Perry Bellegarde and AFN BC Regional Chief Terry Teegee, welcoming remarks from representatives of the three host First Nations and the Honourable Scott Fraser, B.C.’s Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. Procedural matters were taken care of and, as with every AGA, the AFN and NIB Trust Audited Financial Statements were presented publicly to all delegates.

This being an election year, an All Candidates Forum took place in the afternoon, chaired by the AFN Chief Electoral Officer. The five candidates were incumbent National Chief Perry Bellegarde, Manitoba Keewatinow Okimakanak Grand Chief Sheila North, Senior Advisor of Indigenous Leadership Initiative and former Haida Nation President Miles Richardson, Indigenous Policy Analyst Russ Diabo, and former AFN Manitoba Regional Chief and policy and political advisor Katherine Whitecloud.

Voting for the National Chief began on day two of the AGA with the first poll opening at 9 am, closing at noon. The first ballot was announced at 1pm. 60% of registered voters are needed to win the election. 538 votes were cast. The first ballot results were: 286 for Perry Bellegarde, 40 for Russ Diabo, 106 for Sheila North, 87 for Miles Richardson, 19 for Katherine Whitecloud. Katherine Whitecloud was removed from the ballot and addressed the delegates. A second ballot was announced as no candidate achieved 60%.

The second ballot results were announced that afternoon. 522 votes were cast, with the results:  328 for Perry Bellegarde, 10 for Russ Diabo, 125 for Sheila North, 59 for Miles Richardson. National Chief Perry Bellegarde was re-elected with 63% of the vote. Each candidate addressed the Assembly. This was followed by the Oath of Office Ceremony and a traditional ceremony for National Chief Bellegarde.

On Day 3 of the AGA, newly elected National Chief Perry Bellegarde provided his opening remarks. The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, then addressed the Chiefs and delegates.

This was followed by a powerful presentation on First Nations justice. Six Nations Chief Ava Hill spoke to issues facing First Nations in Canada’s legal system, and introduced members of the Colten Boushie family and Jon Styres family who shared their experiences in their fight for justice. They called on Chiefs-in-Assembly for continued support.

In the afternoon, delegates participated in Dialogue Sessions on Education; Dialogue on Potential Federal First Nations Health Legislation; Housing and Related Infrastructure Strategy; Co-developing a First Nations, Inuit and Métis Languages Act; Modern Treaties; and Safe Drinking Water for First Nations.

The afternoon plenary resumed with a presentation on the Day Scholars issue, followed by dialogue and discussion on resolutions. A list of the resolutions passed at the AGA is attached and the full resolutions are posted on the AFN website:

The entire proceedings of the AFN AGA are archived on the AFN YouTube page.

In response to a resolution from Chiefs calling for a meeting to discuss Canada’s proposed Recognition and Implementation of Rights Framework, the AFN is making plans for a meeting September 11 and 12 in Gatineau, Quebec. More details and information will be provided as soon as possible.

The AFN thanks the BC Assembly of First Nations for their excellent work in hosting the AFN AGA and organizing a series of amazing social and cultural events showcasing First Nations art, music, food, fashion and culture. We thank all those who attended the AGA and appreciate your insight and guidance.