Shawn Atleo, National Chief, Assembly of First Nations

Shawn Atleo, Assembly of First Nations | BCBusiness

From the 2013 Influencer Index: The hereditary chief of the Ahousaht First Nation unites B.C.’s First Nations

In a fractious community with grievances too numerous to list and a diffuse leadership spread among more than 200 B.C. First Nations, one clear voice stands out. Shawn A-in-chut Atleo played a unifying role as chief of the B.C. Assembly of First Nations (AFN) from 2003 to 2009, before becoming national chief of the AFN, where he is currently serving a second three-year term following a hotly disputed election last July.

Atleo forged the historic Leadership Accord among B.C. First Nations leaders in 2005. Last December, the 45-year-old hereditary chief of the Ahousaht First Nation reappeared in headlines alongisde Mayor Gregor Robertson at a ceremonial signing of the Save the Fraser Declaration, calling for a ban on new pipelines and oil tankers in B.C.

“The debate over the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline has vaulted First Nations people and their rights to the forefront of the national discussion on energy, the environment and resource development,” Atleo wrote in an August 2012 editorial in the Globe and Mail. “We must be partners, not an afterthought.”