Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Manitoba’s current regional chief for the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) has her sights set on the top job with AFN.
Cindy Woodhouse vowed that if elected, she would work to see First Nations interests “on the agenda” at all levels of decision and policymaking across the country.
“The chiefs that I know and the chiefs I know across the country want results,” Woodhouse said Tuesday at a media conference in Winnipeg where she announced her intention to run to be AFN’s next national chief. “They expect the Assembly of First Nations to be knocking on doors across the board, and to be kicking down those doors, because we have to make sure that when there are meetings happening that we’re not being left off the agenda.
“That is what they expect of AFN, and that is why AFN exists, to ensure that First Nations voices are not left out.”
According to a media release, in her time as Regional Chief, Woodhouse was a leader in negotiations for the AFN that resulted in a $40 billion settlement of a human rights class action lawsuit regarding discrimination in the child welfare system.
She has also led advocacy surrounding clean drinking water, Internet connectivity, and affordable housing in First Nations communities.
“At a time when Canada is talking about housing, you still have First Nations you need to talk to, and we need a seat at the table,” Woodhouse said. “We can’t be left out anymore. That’s unacceptable.”
Woodhouse was born and raised in the Anishinaabe community of Pinaymootang First Nation, located in Treaty 2 territory in Manitoba. Her great-great grandfather, Chief Richard Woodhouse was an original signatory of Treaty 2 on August 21, 1871.
Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations vice-chief David Pratt was the first person to announce his intention to run to be the new national chief, and in his August announcement, he said the AFN is at a “critical juncture” and the election is about restoring and rebuilding the national organization.
The upcoming election comes after the dramatic ouster of former national chief RoseAnne Archibald, who was voted out after colleagues accused her of creating a toxic work environment — an allegation she continues to deny.
The election is set to take place during a special assembly in December in Ottawa.
— with files from the Canadian Press
Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun.
The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.