As the Assembly of First Nations wraps up its Annual General Assembly in Halifax, chiefs in northeastern Ontario say none of the issues facing their communities can be resolved until the assembly itself is reformed.
Education and sustainable natural resource development are just some of the more contentious issues being discussed by the Assembly of First Nations in Halifax this week. But the main question hanging over the annual general meeting is how the AFN will reform internally — and who will take over as national chief.
Serpent River First Nation Chief Isadore Day contends the AFN charter needs restructuring before it makes way for a new leader.
"Are we going to have the time to make all the necessary changes to have a functioning machine?"
Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee of the Anishinabek Nation said the AFN needs someone who will make the assembly more relevant to communities.
"A new national chief is going to have to be very cognizant of how … renewal takes place and how it'll create an organization that isn't viewed as an excuse of the federal government to only consult the national chief,” he said.
Outside of this matter, First Nation leaders also turned their attention to education issues
M'Chigeeng First Nation Chief Joe Hare said the reason why failure rates in First Nations schools are high is because they lack funding.
“It's a catch-22 situation. I don't know how you can do better when you don't have the resources to use to get where you want to be,” he said.
The federal government's proposed legislation on aboriginal education was rejected by First Nations leaders earlier this year.
A new national chief is expected to be elected in December.