The national leadership election for the Congress of First Nations is shaping up to be a close race to decide the winner, with just two candidates down to just two candidates after a hard-fought four-vote race Wednesday night.
AFN Manitoba regional director Cindy Woodhouse leads with 51.4 per cent support from 461 registered delegates. David Platt, first vice president of the Saskatchewan Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, follows with 40.1 per cent support.
After the fourth round, Woodhouse approached Pratt with his supporters and urged him to concede. But Pratt refused, saying he needed to meet with chiefs before making a decision, and the contest went to a fifth vote.
“I was still their first deputy chief and I still work for them,” Pratt said. Additional rounds continue until someone reaches 60 percent support or the second-place candidate concedes.
Ms. Woodhouse watched her support slowly grow with each ballot, and as Ms. Pratt conferred with chiefs, her supporters swelled inside the Shaw Center in downtown Ottawa. They crossed their arms and sang a song.
Pratt gained momentum in the final stages with strong support from Sheila North, who lost the race on the third ballot.
“My hope is that the next head of state will make the AFN work for the chief, rather than the chief working for the AFN,” North said in his concession speech.
Six people are vying to succeed Rose-Anne Archibald, head of Canada’s largest indigenous advocacy organization. It comes after a Cree leader who pushed for radical reforms was ousted earlier this year following harassment allegations and two rebellions led by local chiefs.
After the third round, North, a native of Manitoba’s Vanibonibee Cree Nation and former grand chief of Manitoba’s Kiwatinowi Okimakanak, spoke to supporters before taking to the stage to address delegates. I spoke briefly and gathered my thoughts.
At Woodhouse, she thanked Chief Carvis Anderson of the Pinaymutan First Nation for his support and gave a thinly veiled farewell. Woodhouse is from the Pinaymutan First Nation.
“When that incident happened, it was a very clear message to me,” North said, adding that he decided to run because of the “disrespect” Archibald showed during his ouster. Mr Woodhouse was a member of the AFN’s leadership when it was pushing for the removal of Mr Archibald.
“She didn’t deserve it,” North said of the former head of state. She added, “Not that I agree with everything she did or the way she did it, but she deserved that kind of respect at the end of her term.”
Reginald Bellows, Craig Mackinac and Dean Sayers also ran.
Mr. Sayers was defeated on the second ballot, supporting the North. In accordance with AFN’s charter, Bellows and Mackinac were eliminated after placing fifth and sixth on the first ballot.
Sayers said he believes chiefs want change and told CBC Indigenous that he feels his candidacy was a success because it brought issues to the forefront that might not have been raised otherwise. Ta.
Mr. Mackinaw focused his campaign on the need to reset the relationship with the federal government and return the focus to substantive issues.
“This is a good opportunity for AFN to move forward,” Mackinac told CBC Indigenous.
In a statement released after the test results, Bellows said he is “doing well and receiving good treatment.”
Representatives who spoke to CBC Indigenous described the unity and organization across the country that led to the overthrow of the Archibald government in a vote of no confidence in July after years of political turmoil that included allegations of misogyny, corruption, bullying and harassment. He emphasized the need to restore public recognition.
AFN is a national advocacy group representing more than 630 chiefs across the country, and only chiefs or their designated representatives, not the government, can vote in elections.
Mr Woodhouse and Mr Platt have presented different visions to Parliament during the campaign, with leaders competing in this election to fight for change and those pushing for a results-oriented agenda that involves collaboration with government. suggested that.
At Tuesday’s all-candidate forum, Pratt spoke of the formation Indigenous leaders had against Congress in 1968, when they were founded as the National Indian Brotherhood to oppose Pierre Trudeau’s infamous white paper. He won applause for his fast-paced speech touting a return to his vision. policy.
In his speech Tuesday, Woodhouse highlighted his work on the recent $23 billion settlement with Canada and his work with former national leaders Perry Bellegarde and Sean Atleo. Bellegarde, in particular, was often accused of being too cozy with the federal government.
Mr. North came second to Mr. Bellegarde in the 2018 AFN election and promised to distance himself from negotiations with Ottawa and refocus on regional sovereignty. In a speech on Tuesday, she called for “making AFN relevant again.”
But after his loss, North criticized the setting of the candidate debate, which was extended until 9 p.m. after Tuesday’s all-day rally, leaving the candidates with nearly empty seats by the end.
Voting will continue until a winner is declared on Wednesday and could extend into Thursday.