The re-elected chief of the Assembly of First Nations got a thumbs up Wednesday from Tk’emlups Indian Band Chief Shane Gottfriedson.
While he couldn’t be in Toronto for Wednesday’s election due to the death of a band member, he did say Shawn Atleo’s campaign platform was solid.
“Shawn’s worked really hard over the last three years. There was an overwhelming vote of confidence among the chiefs to give him another three years as national chief,” he said.
Atleo faced seven other candidates, the most ever for an AFN election. He won in the third ballot with 341 of 512 votes (60 per cent, or 321 votes, were needed to win).
His strongest competition came from second-place finisher Pam Palmater, a Mi’kmaw lawyer who got 141 votes in the last count and who campaigned on pushing harder for First Nations in Ottawa.
Atleo, who is from B.C., has been quiet and conciliatory in his dealings with the federal government. But Palmater had called for stepping up the AFN’s demands for change, as the status quo hasn’t been working.
Both were in Kamloops two weeks ago, as was another candidate, Joan Jack, presenting their views on a range of election issues.
Gottfriedson said Atleo needs to work on building partnerships with industry and legislative changes that affect First Nations.
Now that the election is over, he would like to see Palmater and the other candidates back Atleo in his efforts.
“It’s time to support Shawn and the work he’s going to do as national chief. We don’t need no backbiting politics from the other non-supporters of Atleo. They need to be able to jump on board and have a united front as we move forward on our issues,” he said.
“Each candidate has their ideas and agenda. Put all those ideas and agendas together and work for the common good for all of our people.”
Gottfriedson said the common thread among all aboriginal communities in Canada is poverty.
He was in Toronto in the lead-up to the election, but flew back Sunday after getting news about the death of Jesse Seymour. He said he’s close to Seymour’s family and is feeling the loss.
Skeetchestn Indian Band Chief Rick Deneault had openly backed Atleo in the election, saying previously he liked the incumbent’s approach and his willingness to learn to members while fighting for their rights.
This is Atleo’s second term as AFN chief. The assembly represents 633 First Nations across Canada.