Jodi Calahoo Stonehouse following her dream to become national chief of the AFN

Jodi Calahoo Stonehouse has never forgotten about a dream she had that she told her Grade 8 social studies class.

It was about her mooshum introducing her as first women to hold the role of national chief of the Assembly of First Nations. Her class laughed at her when she told them but it’s something she’s been working toward ever since.

“All of the things that I’ve done around my post-secondary education, being a commissioner for the Edmonton city police have all been about systems thinking to develop and train me on what I might bring to the national assembly,” says Calahoo Stonehouse.

Calahoo Stonehouse is Cree and Mohawk from Michel First Nation in Treaty 6 Territory and is the current executive director of the Yellowhead Indigenous Education Foundation.

She is a former band councillor and is the founder and producer at Miyo-Pimatisiwin Production

In terms of priorities, Calahoo Stonehouse says a climate strategy is needed, right away.

But she says the discoveries of unmarked graves at former residential school sites in Kamloops, British Columbia and Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan are of course weighing heavy on everyone’s minds.

“The work we need to do around healing, lifting our Nations is going to take some energy, some love and some time,” says Calahoo Stonehouse.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a big impact on the campaign for national chief.

Typically, candidates would be criss-crossing the country, meeting with chiefs and community members. Even the vote for national chief will be held virtually this time around.

“This demonstrates that things are different and we need to chose different leaders, different styles of doing things. The future is unpredictable and we know we need to be innovative and strategize,” says Calahoo Stonehouse.

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.

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