Candidate for national chief says systemic racism is at the root of the issues facing First Nations


Cathy Martin, a candidate for national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, says she has a lot to offer when it comes to moving First Nations issues forward.

Martin, who is currently an elected member of council for the Listuguj Mi’gmaq Government, says there is one commonality among all 638 First Nations from coast to coast that needs to be addressed and that is system racism.

“If we address the systems of racism, then we address just about every issue that we face as First Nations people across the country. From clean water, to inhabitable living conditions, to poverty to trickling into the private sectors,” says Martin.

Martin’s campaign material says “it is by asserting our traditional values of courage and humility, by holding accountable all Canadians who exercise racism, and all Canadians who remain silent witnesses of such, that we will begin to see true progress in the diminishing of system racism in this land.”

Martin, who says she has “a wealth of experience interacting at the grassroots level and various levels of government” says another issue that has continued to pop up during the campaign is “the direction of the AFN.”

“There seems to be a lot of discontent with the AFN taking the stance of being the legislative voice for the chiefs,” says Martin.

The AFN needs a “redefining and realigning and getting the direction of the chiefs as to where the Assembly of First Nations is going and how it should be run,” says Martin.

The race for the national chief of the AFN is nearing the finish line.

Seven candidates are running to replace Perry Bellegarde after he announced he would not be seeking a third term.

The vote for the next national chief will take place virtually on July 7.

Roughly, 630 chiefs and proxies will elect the next national chief.

APTN News will be interviewing the seven candidates in the run-up to the July election which will be held virtually.

Host, Producer / Winnipeg

Dennis is Metis from southern Manitoba. After spending a decade working in TV in Alberta and Ontario, Dennis returned to Manitoba to join APTN’s Winnipeg bureau as reporter/correspondent in September 2014. In 2016, he won a Canadian Association of Journalists award for his story A Soldier Scorned for APTN Investigates. In 2017, he became a host/producer for APTN National News and Face to Face. In 2020, Dennis and co host Melissa Ridgen were nominated for a Canadian Screen Award for Best News Anchor, National.