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Activist Communiqué: Report back from Day Two of the Assembly of First Nations - Election Day

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For news coverage of Tuesday's campaign for AFN Grand Chief including candidate platforms, please see this link: Activist Communiqué: Assembly of First Nations elections, a report from day one.

Voting day for the next Grand Chief of the Assembly of First Nations began at 9:00am on Wednesday. July 18, with first round voting results expected around 12:30 pm.

All eight candidates had made their platform speeches on Tuesday and spent the night actively lobbying the chiefs and their proxies for their support.

That morning, there were plenty of predictions regarding the winner.

Wab Kinew predicted, "Atleo by a landslide."

Ben Powless also weighed in on the second round of voting, "I predict Atleo wins in third or fourth round."

In past AFN elections (2003, 1994, 1985 and 1982), when the front runner gets the lions share of the vote after first ballot results, they easily win on the second ballot.

That said, in the last AFN election three years ago in Calgary, Atleo won after a grueling eight ballots rounds that lasted until 3:00 am the following day.

According to AFN election guidelines, the winner of the election need a majority of 60 per cent to win. Any candidate with less than fifteen votes is automatically eliminated and the candidate with the least votes on the ballot per round is also automatically eliminated.

After the first round of voting results were tallied at noon yesterday and announced at 12:30 pm, the results were as follows: Stanley 5; Palmater 95; Nelson 35; Kelly 39; Jack 20, Gabriel 33; Erasmus 29 and Atleo 284. George Stanley and Joan Jack bowed out of the race.

The results of the second round of ballots was announced at 3:30 pm were as follows: Palmater 107; Nelson 25; Kelly 34; Gabriel 17; Erasmus 34 and Atleo 318. The vote results were 535 ballots casts, with the 60 per cent threshold at 321 votes.

Atleo was three ballots short of the 60 per cent majority needed to win the AFN Grand Chief position.

On the floor, the other candidates started to move and there were rumours of possible vote dealing among candidates like Kelly, Nelson and Gabriel.

Defiant, Erasmus said that the only deal he had with other candidates was an "anyone but Atleo" proposition to his camp, challenging Pam Palmater.

Third ballot voting started at 4:30 pm and ended at 6:00 pm. Nelson and Gabriel voters moved to Palmater's camp. Nelson addressed the audience at this time to give another humourous speech to the chiefs, vowing that "I'll be back," mimicking Arnold Schwarzenegger, and formally endorsing Palmater's campaign.

Team Atleo gathered at their camp as they waited and played hand drums that resonated through the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

Before third round voting results were announced, Pam Palmater tweeted out, "I refuse to make any deals. Our sovereignty land treaties and people are not for sale. No matter what they offer..."

At 6:30pm, Team Atleo marched with his procession just before third round ballot results were announced.

Third ballot results were announced at 6:30 pm: Pam Palmater 141; Eramus 30; Atleo 341.

Because Atleo earned 341 votes on the third ballot out of 512 cast by the chiefs, he finally reached the 60 per cent vote threshold to win. The room erupted in cheers at the annoucement of the results, though there were pockets of people who did not stand nor cheer.

It also should be noted that the AFN chief was elected by just elected by 341 people, that's only 0.04 per cent of status First Nations people across Canada.

To pledge his oath of leadership, Grand Chief Atleo then took the stage followed by a long line of family members present. They surrounded him with ceremony and drums to celebrate his win. Atleo's family sang a victory song, "in anticipation of victory for all of us."

In the victory speech, he repeatedly referenced corporate Canada regarding resource sharing in the future. He also promised that during his term, "We will stand together and put the final stake in colonialism."

During Atleo's victory speech, Palmater took to the Aboriginal People's Television Network (APTN), stating that, "the chiefs voted for joint Atleo-Harper action plan," regarding the extraction of natural resources from Indigenous territory under Atleo's leadership.

Twitter reaction was swift upon the news that Atleo had won.

While most tweets praised Atleo and thanked all the candidates for participating in the leadership race, he had his detractors. On Twitter:

Tobold Rollo‏@ToboldRollo: "Oh, man. Shawn Atleo just invoked 'corporate Canada' as an ally. Harper has already won."

Taiaiake Alfred‏@Taiaiake: "#AFNelection‬ Atleo again: because the status quo and kow-towing is working so well for our people. Chiefs telling us AFN = ‪#AllForNobody‬"

As for Atleo's statment in his victory speech that he will "put the final stake in colonialism," he has three years to prove it.

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