Stalemate at Assembly of First Nations Election: No New National Chief Elected Yet

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Indigenous Issues

Cindy Woodhouse Close to Victory, But No Winner Declared After Six Rounds of Voting

Indecisive Outcome in AFN National Chief Election

The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) faced an unexpected turn of events late Wednesday when, after six rounds of voting, no candidate for the position of national chief secured the necessary 60% of votes. The election saw a tight race between regional chief Cindy Woodhouse and Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations vice-chief David Pratt.

Cindy Woodhouse Nearly Reaches Victory Threshold

As the voting at Ottawa’s Shaw Centre neared its closing time, Woodhouse was close to victory with 50.8% of the votes but fell short of the required majority. Her nearest contender, Pratt, held 39.3% of the support, leading to a prolonged election process.

Intense Discussions and Debate Among Delegates

The election took an intense turn after the fourth ballot, with a tense conversation between Woodhouse and Pratt on the assembly floor, indicating that their battle was far from over. The announcement of a sixth ballot brought mixed reactions from the delegates, with some calling for the election to end and declare Woodhouse the winner.

Delbert Wapass Advocates for Adherence to Rules

In a significant intervention, Delbert Wapass, chief of Thunderchild First Nation, urged the assembly to adhere strictly to its voting procedures. “Just because this is Indian politics does not mean this is a banana republic. Let’s stick to the rules: 60 percent of the vote,” Wapass asserted.

Election Delayed Due to Venue’s Operating Hours

Ultimately, the decision-making was postponed due to the venue’s operating hours, with the voting scheduled to resume on Thursday.

Sheila North Throws Support Behind Pratt

In a strategic move, Sheila North, former Manitoba grand chief and advocate for missing and murdered Indigenous women, endorsed Pratt before exiting the race. North emphasized the need for the AFN to continue advocating for the protection of Indigenous women and girls.

Candidates’ Commitment to Future Generations

Dean Sayers, Batchewana First Nation chief, who dropped out after the second ballot, reminded the remaining candidates of their responsibility towards future generations and the need for unity and strength.

Background on Former National Chief’s Ouster

The election comes months after former national chief RoseAnne Archibald was removed following an investigation into allegations of harassment and policy breaches, which she denied. Archibald’s supporters believe she was ousted for challenging the organization’s status quo.

Candidates’ Pledges and Advocacy Goals

During the election speeches, candidates expressed their commitment to various issues. Woodhouse called for improved First Nations policing and stronger advocacy with the federal government. Pratt emphasized the shared history of advocacy and his intent to bring about significant change if elected. Sayers promised active community engagement rather than waiting for government action, and North proposed a treaty among First Nations as a united front against external legislation.

Election Procedures and Oath of Office

According to the assembly’s election procedures, each member nation has one vote, either by the chief or a registered proxy. After the final results are announced, the newly elected national chief is expected to partake in an oath of office ceremony.

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