Sheila North, the first woman to ever be elected grand chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak is now making a bid for the top job of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs.
North is the first candidate to announce she’s running for the position. The role is currently held by Arlen Dumas whose term was extended by a year due to the pandemic.
Chiefs in Manitoba will now select a grand chief, a role that includes being regional chief of the Assembly of First Nations at an assembly July 13-15.
North, who is a member of Bunibonibee Cree Nation was elected grand chief of MKO in September, 2015, representing 30 First Nations in northern Manitoba.
North didn’t run for re-election in 2018 as she made a bid for national chief of the Assembly of First Nations.
North finished second on the ballot that saw Perry Bellegarde elected for a second term. Bellegarde has decided not run again for national chief in the race that is currently underway.
North says she respects anyone who puts their name forward in an election, but doesn’t feel he provided the leadership needed at times.
“I don’t think we always saw what we needed out of him. And whether its perception or not, we didn’t see him go after the big problems that we we’re facing,” says North. “Sure, there was money that was released and sure it seemed like there was building of relationships for the Liberal government to release funds. But, essentially that’s not what we needed. We didn’t need to sound like we were begging for money and then thankful that we got it.
“What I hear across the country and what I heard while campaigning was that we have to reset relationships that gives back the reins to sovereign nations to run our own affairs, not to be governed by the federal government. From birth to death, everything that affects us is essentially ruled by the bureaucrats and politicians in Ottawa and we didn’t always see the push from the AFN when Perry was there to make sure that our Treaties were being upheld.”
Chiefs will select a new national chief at the AFN’s annual general assembly on July 7.
North, who was a journalist prior to entering politics, is also currently penning a memoir. My Privilege, My Responsibility is set to be released in November.
“It’s been the biggest writing challenge, of course I’ve ever had to do in my life,” says North on the latest episode of Face to Face. “Sitting here in my little house writing it has had it’s up and downs. I’ve had a few tears already but it feels like a healing process and it feels like all of those things that I went through have come close again, and I’ve experienced them. Including, living in an abusive relationship for many years and the reasons why I got into advocating for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
“And now I’m writing more specifically about the leadership roles I’ve had and even my work as a journalist.”