Dissatisfied chiefs in Canada could form new First Nations group

Tensions between Canada's Assembly of First Nations and some chiefs who are feeling excluded could lead to the formation of a new breakaway group at a meeting next month.

The National Treaty Gathering will take place July 14 to 18 at Onion Lake, Saskatchewan, the same time the AFN will have its annual meeting in Whitehorse, Yukon. Those invited must choose which meeting they want to attend.

Grand Chief Derek Nepinak of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs will present at the Onion Lake event the idea of a new group, tentatively known as the National Treaty Alliance.

Nepinak said there is a general sense of exclusion and that some chiefs feel the AFN is not listening to their grievances.

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"Indigenous people across the country stand firm on recognizing that change needs to happen. We have to get past those political power vacuums that we've allowed to persist for too long, where very few people are allowed to share their ideas and their perspectives on what we need to do," he said.

Chief Delbert Wapass of Saskatchewan's Thunderchild First Nation said he would also be attending the Onion Lake meeting and is excited about what could happen there.

"I know it will be something great. Everybody should be there as far as I'm concerned," Wapass said. "If the AFN is not stepping up and defending our rights, we have to."