OTTAWA — The chief electoral officer with the Assembly of First Nations says it has received nomination papers from six candidates vying to be the next national chief of the organization that represents more than 600 First Nations in Canada.
The upcoming election comes after the dramatic ouster of former national chief RoseAnne Archibald, who was voted out after colleagues accused her of creating a toxic work environment — an allegation she continues to deny.
The deadline for nominations in the contest was Wednesday, and the vote is set to occur on Dec. 6 during a special chiefs assembly in Ottawa.
Here's who's running.
Reginald Bellerose: Chair of the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority and the Saskatchewan Indian Training Assessment Group, Bellerose is running again after losing out in the assembly's last national chief election. His platform focuses on building generational wealth in communities, rebuilding nation-to-nation relationships and community wellness.
Craig Makinaw: Makinaw is the former chief of Ermineskin Cree Nation and former AFN Alberta regional chief. He is a founding member of Natural Law Energy, a coalition that advocates for Indigenous communities to participate meaningfully in the resource economy. The group says it uses ancestors' teachings and natural laws to build economic participation for Indigenous Peoples.
Sheila North: The former grand chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak is an advocate for missing and murdered Indigenous women and a former journalist. She said when announcing her candidacy that she would prioritize respecting the inherent rights of First Nations, including self-governance, and that the AFN needs to do a better job of acting in the best interest of chiefs.
David Pratt: The vice-chief for the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations was the first to announce his candidacy. In announcing his decision to run, Pratt said the AFN is at a "critical juncture" and the election is about restoring and rebuilding the national organization.
Dean Sayers: Sayers is a former longtime Batchewana First Nation chief. He was most recently involved in negotiations for the Robinson Huron Treaty settlement, in which signatory First Nations argued that Canada and Ontario did not uphold their treaty obligations to make annual payments to Indigenous beneficiaries that had first been promised in 1850, and capped at $4 per person in 1875. A $10-billion settlement was proposed in June.
Cindy Woodhouse: The AFN's regional chief for Manitoba threw her hat in the ring in late October. She was the lead Assembly of First Nations negotiator for a landmark $23-billion child-welfare settlement that was approved last week in Federal Court.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 2, 2023.
Alessia Passafiume, The Canadian Press