Wab Kinew contemplating run for AFN national chief

Wab Kinew 2

Wab Kinew considers running for AFN national chief’s position.

By Jorge Barrera, APTN National News, May 19, 2014
Wab Kinew is considering a run for national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, APTN National News has learned.

Kinew, an award-winning journalist and educator whose name recognition has grown since he hosted CBC’s 8th Fire series in 2012, was expected to come to a decision as early as Tuesday, according to source who would be involved in heading up a campaign team.

The source said Kinew, 32, was seeking spiritual advice before making a final decision.

“He is doing sweats this evening,” said the source, who requested anonymity until Kinew made a final decision.

A “full-fledged” organization is in place and ready to back him and includes experienced hands who’ve been involved in national leadership campaigns dating back to the National Indian Brotherhood, the pre-cursor to the AFN, said the source.

If he decides to run, Kinew would be vying to lead an organization at one of the lowest ebbs of its history following the sudden resignation of Shawn Atleo, said the source.

“You can’t agree on anything, there is no trust, there is no leadership…You are at your weakest point and you have a powerful adversary,” said the source. “You need to be strong, you need to have a strong voice…That’s what the AFN needs, that is what First Nations need, that is what Idle No More needs.”

The source said Kinew reminded him of Noel Starblanket who was National Chief of the National Indian Brotherhood from 1976 to 1980. Starblanket became chief of his community, Starblanket First Nation, at age 24.

“Starblanket came out of nowhere and he had an awesome run,” said the source. “He could mobilize people, he was emotional, he had conviction…He went on to become a great national chief. Prime ministers feared him. He was a powerful leader.”

Starblanket also helped the NIB transition into the AFN, said the source. The AFN is at a similar cross-roads, said the source.

The AFN’s chiefs will decide on the electoral process to replace Atleo during a planned meeting in Ottawa on May 27.

The national chief of the AFN is elected by First Nation chiefs.

Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations Chief Perry Bellegarde is widely expected to again seek the leadership of the AFN. Bellegarde is making phone calls seeking support, but his flip-flop on Bill C-33, the First Nation education bill, and his opposition to the Confederacy of Nations, which is supported by chiefs in his own region, may have fatally weakened his chances.

Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Derek Nepinak is also facing pressure to run for national chief. Nepinak, however, is currently planning on seeking re-election to continue leading the AMC.

Nepinak is expected to back Kinew if he puts his name on the AFN ballot.

“Nepinak is a part of a very powerful movement, the historic numbered treaty group, it’s a pretty big block,” said the source.

Kinew most recently left his mark on mainstream Canada through his robust defence of Joseph Boyden’s Orenda novel on CBC’s Canada Reads, a type of literary Survivor where books get voted off the island until only one remains.

Kinew is also a correspondent for Fault Lines, a flagship Al Jazeera documentary program. His work with the international news network has taken him to Yemen, the U.S.-Mexico border and Elsipogtog to cover the explosive shale gas protests in New Brunswick.

Kinew has won the Adrienne Clarkson RTNDA Award, and a Gabriel Award for his journalism.

He is also director of Indigenous inclusion at the University of Winnipeg.


Posted on May 19, 2014, in Indian Act Indians and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. i believe we need a individual like Wab to help build a foundation for generations to come.A educated and ceremonial man with the vision we need to have.We as First Nations were led down the wrong road from Shawn Atleo. Vote for Wab Kinew for AFN GrandChief.

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