Manitoba chiefs want AFN meeting with Harper, GG

Grand Chief Derek Nepinak of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs speaks to the media January 18, 2013.



OTTAWA - Dissident Manitoba chiefs are pressuring the Assembly of First Nations to hold a meeting with the prime minister and the Governor General.

The meeting's unlikely to happen, since Stephen Harper met with the AFN last week and the Queen rebuffed the chiefs' demands to have Harper boss the Governor General around.

Manitoba Grand Chief Derek Nepinak told the national press gallery Friday he rejects being identified as the lead dissident among chiefs.

However, it was Nepinak who led the charge that AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo should be removed by a non-confidence vote over his decision to sit with Harper on Jan. 11 - a meeting Nepinak and other chiefs boycotted.

Now, they want the meeting and Nepinak said the AFN is currently drafting a letter to Harper to request it.

"We're calling on the prime minister to meet Jan. 24 on our terms," he said, describing last week's meeting as having a "prescriptive agenda".

Nepinak said he expects Atleo to "take a leadership role" in the meeting, but in the same breath said the Manitoba chiefs would hold a meeting Tuesday to discuss a non-confidence vote on Atleo's leadership. Atleo is currently on sick leave and it is unclear when he will resume his position.

Harper has indicated he will not meet with the AFN again until Atleo has returned.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister's Office said they have yet to receive a letter from the AFN, but will review it when it arrives.

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