05/20/2014 08:12 EDT | Updated 05/21/2014 03:59 EDT

Wab Kinew Mulls Bid For Assembly Of First Nations National Chief


A high-profile activist may run to replace Shawn Atleo as national chief of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN).

Wab Kinew, director of indigenous inclusion at the University of Winnipeg, is considering seeking the leadership of an advocacy organization that represents First Nations across Canada, Metro News reported on Tuesday.

"I was asked by some people I respect to do it and so I am open to it and giving it some thought," Kinew, a member of Ontario's Onigaming First Nation, told the newspaper.

However, he has to consider a number of factors first, such as his family, career and whether he would be able to make a difference for indigenous people if he won the position.

Kinew, 32, rose to national prominence in 2012 as host of "8th Fire," a CBC series that examined the relationship between Canada and aboriginal peoples.

His public profile elevated when he successfully defended Joseph Boyden's book "The Orenda" as part of Canada Reads 2014, a national literary battle.

Atleo resigned in May as national chief amid a heated debate over Bill C-33, the First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act, saying he didn't want to become a distraction.

Kinew wrote a blog post defending the assembly for The Huffington Post Canada following Atleo's resignation.

He claimed that AFN critics were saying the assembly had passed its "best before" date, but acknowledged the organization had been instrumental in obtaining justice for residential school survivors and fighting for treaty rights.

"That is not a legacy to be discarded," he wrote.

Kinew may not be alone in running for national chief.

Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations Chief Perry Bellegarde is expected to seek the position, while Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Derek Nepinak is also being pressured to run, but is likely to support Kinew if he enters the race, APTN reported.

Kinew is seeking spiritual advice before he makes a decision, an anonymous source told the network.

CORRECTION: Wab Kinew is director of indigenous inclusion at the University of Winnipeg, not the University of Manitoba, as was previously stated.

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