Shawn Atleo will serve a second term as national chief of the Assembly of First Nations after beating out his competitors in three rounds of voting in Toronto.

Atleo earned 341 votes on the third ballot out of 512 cast by First Nations leaders from across the country, putting him far ahead of his closest competitor — Mi'qmaq lawyer Pamela Palmater of Ontario, who got 141 votes. The third candidate in the race, Dene Chief Bill Erasmus from the Northwest Territories, received 30 votes.

A candidate needed 60 per cent of the votes cast to win, meaning Atleo had to get 307 to retain his post.

Atleo, who has strong support in his British Columbia base, defeated seven other candidates to earn a second three-year term at the helm of the AFN.

"We are part of a movement not only in this country we call Canada, but of indigenous peoples around the world who have coalesced around the effort of the United Nations declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples," Atleo said after his victory.

"And we will take our rightful place in our respective territories," he said.

Wednesday's result endorses Atleo's leadership over the last three years and deflates some of his critics, who say he's become too cozy and conciliatory with the federal government.

Palmater, who was trying to become the first woman to serve as national chief of the AFN, said she hopes the challenge to Atleo's leadership influences how the re-elected national chief deals with Ottawa.

"He may take what has transpired and say 'OK, I've listened, I've learned my lesson, I'm going to engage with the chiefs, we're going to take a different agenda,'" Palmater said.

She said she will give Atleo the benefit of the doubt and watch him closely during his next three-year term.

Atleo's supporters said a second term will give him the chance to build on his carefully cultivated, mutually respectful relationship with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Harper issued a statement congratulating Atleo shortly after his re-election, saying he looked forward to continuing to work with him on First Nations issues.

"The government of Canada and First Nations have an enduring historic relationship based on mutual respect, friendship and support," the statement said. "I look forward to continue working with National Chief Atleo to keep building solid partnerships between First Nations people and other Canadians, to the mutual benefit of us all."

Choosing a leader was not nearly as time-consuming as the last time around. Three years ago in Calgary, eight ballots were required before Atleo emerged victorious. This time, the incumbent chief had wider support for his re-election among the 500-plus chiefs who spent the day casting ballots.

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  • Shawn Atleo

    The incumbent, a hereditary chief from the Ahousaht First Nation in British Columbia; campaigning on record of making education a top priority, advocating for First Nations inclusion in Canadian economy and opening doors in Ottawa.

  • Pam Palmater

    Mik'maq lawyer and political pundit has never been a chief and has only had her First Nations status for a year. Says her goal is to bring grassroots voice to policy discussion and make chiefs think twice about accepting status quo.

  • Bill Erasmus

    Long-time regional chief for Northwest Territories, well known among chiefs, especially since his brother George held national chief title. Has vowed to stop Northern Gateway pipeline and give First Nations a louder voice in negotiating the sharing of resource wealth.

  • Ellen Gabriel

    Mohawk activist from Kanesatake in western Quebec gained national profile during Oka crisis in 1990 when she was the spokeswoman for people on her reserve. Wants a larger role for women in decision-making and wants AFN to be more receptive to grassroots concerns about housing, education and environment. <em>Ellen Gabriel leads Kanehsatake Mohawks in a march through the streets of Oka, Que. Tuesday, July 11, 2000 to mark the 10th anniversary of the start of the Oka crisis. (CP PHOTO/Ryan Remiorz)</em>

  • Diane Kelly

    Ojibwa lawyer is former grand chief of Treaty 3 -- a large area straddling northern Ontario and Manitoba. Set a deadline of 150 days to implement plan on increasing First Nations share of resource revenues, calling on communities to stop worrying about independence and just assert it.

  • Terence (Terry) Nelson

    A long-time activist who spent five terms as chief of the Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation. Held a high-profile meeting with Iranian officials in Ottawa earlier this year to pitch closer ties between that country and First Nations. He wants to increase profile of First Nations communities and economies globally.

  • George Stanley: OUT

    The former RCMP officer is also Assembly of First Nations Regional Vice-Chief for Alberta. Home community of Frog Nation located in province's oil sands, has four-point plan with focus on seeing greater aboriginal involvement in natural resource development and pipeline development.

  • Joan Jack: OUT

    Lawyer from Berens River, Man., has made her name advocating for former First Nations students of day-schools where culture was repressed. She wants to educate Canadians on First Nations history and rights, believes it's time for a woman to speak up on behalf of First Nations chiefs.


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