The former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Shawn Atleo, may now be realizing that the inspirational and aspirational modes are insufficent.
I‘VE MET EVERY Assembly of First Nations National Chief going back to the late 1980s, when Georges Erasmus was the leader. Taken as a group, they cover a broad range of personality and disposition. I’ve gotten to know Georges the best, having written for him across a decade and more, but Shawn A-in-chut Atleo is probably the AFN chief who put me most at comfort, right from our first conversation, in a North Bay restaurant.
THE BLUE DOT MEME alludes to the February 7 Kainai High School ceremony which marked the education agreement-in-principle between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Shawn Atleo. As people came through a door, they were given a sticker to wear – either blue (not invited guest) or yellow (invited). The not-invited were seated in a separate room, where they watched the ceremony on a monitor.
OVER A LUNCH with the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Shawn Atleo, I had a conversation last week in North Bay about Idle No More and social media. A thread which ran throughout our discussion was anger — in particular the anger of native people, much of which is directed toward the federal government of Canada.
“THERE ARE MOMENTS,” says the Annual General Assembly Co-Chair, Harold Tarbell, and he’s right. It will turn out to be the most emotional scene of the Assembly of First Nations’ three-day Toronto gathering: a cheerful and wholesome-looking, blonde-haired and blue-eyed thirteen year-old from Niagara Falls, brought to the podium at the behest of child-rights advocate Cindy Blackstock, has just delivered the week’s shortest but perhaps most eloquent speech, and the audience is on their feet:
Hello everybody, my name is Wes Prankard. For the past three years I have been trying to bridge the gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children. What I’ve been doing started three years ago, when I saw pictures of the community Attawapiskat. Just seeing these conditions the children were living in, I just knew it wasn’t fair. And so I decided to do something.