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Georges Erasmus: Hail the new chief

Georges Henry Erasmus has a dream: Self-government for the native peoples of Canada. The charismatic native leader has devoted his life to fighting tirelessly for the right of his people to control their own lives and the land they live on. From his early days as the president of the Dene Nation or as the co-chair of the historic Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, Erasmus has never swayed from his vision. It's a dream that has yet to be fully realized.

It's a fight to the bitter end in the race to lead Canada's largest native organization, reports CBC's Neil Ford. Georges Erasmus runs against incumbent David Ahenakew in what becomes a showdown to head the Assembly of First Nations (AFN).
The two have diametrically opposed ideas about the future of the AFN.
Erasmus wants to work with the premiers in the constitutional talks and negotiate on behalf of all native peoples.

Ahenakew wants to cut the provinces out of the talks altogether and doesn't see the value in uniting with the Inuit and the Métis.
Erasmus, tired of central leadership, vows to distribute power back to the hands of the delegates. Ahenakew disagrees.
In the end, Erasmus is elected National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations on July 30, 1985. He beats Ahenakew by a narrow margin of 274 to 231 votes.
. Georges Erasmus was re-elected National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations in 1988 and served until 1991.
. In 2002, David Ahenakew found himself at the centre of controversy for praising Hitler and the Holocaust to a Saskatoon StarPhoenix reporter. Ahenakew later apologized for his racist remarks and stepped down as the head of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations senate. Native leaders including Erasmus unanimously denounced Ahenakew's comments.
Medium: Radio
Program: The World At Six
Broadcast Date: July 30, 1985
Guest(s): Georges Erasmus
Reporter: Neil Ford
Duration: 2:05

Last updated: January 30, 2012

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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