Regional chiefs meet to determine next steps after Atleo quits

Who will be the next AFN leader?

OTTAWA – Regional chiefs from across the country meet in Ottawa this week to determine how they’ll choose a new leader after the sudden resignation of Shawn Atleo.

The executive committee of the Assembly of First Nations is reviewing their charter and may decide to appoint a temporary national chief now or wait to hold a leadership vote later.

“The AFN executive is meeting this week to determine next steps based on the AFN charter. This may include appointing an interim national chief,” spokesman Alain Garon said in an email.

“We will be sharing this information with First Nations as soon as possible this week.”

Atleo abruptly quit on Friday afternoon, saying he wanted to avoid being a distraction in the ongoing — and intensifying — debate over the Conservative government’s proposed changes to First Nations education.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt’s office says a Conservative government bill aimed at reforming aboriginal education is on hold until the AFN determines its next steps.

“With the support of the Assembly of First Nations, our government introduced historic legislation … in April,” Valcourt spokeswoman Erica Meekes said in an email.

“However, given the recent resignation of the national chief, following today’s second reading vote, any further consideration of this legislation will be put on hold until the AFN clarifies its position.”

Some First Nations groups have criticized Atleo for supporting the bill.

They say if passed, the legislation would strip away their rights and give the federal government too much control over the education of their children.

But Valcourt’s office has defended Bill C-33, dubbed the First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act, saying it meets the five conditions outlined by the AFN and chiefs during a meeting in December.

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