Cindy Woodhouse has been elected national chief of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), securing victory as runner-up David Pratt conceded on Thursday, avoiding a seventh round of voting.
Woodhouse, the AFN’s regional chief for Manitoba, had 50.8 per cent support from 461 delegates registered to vote, while Pratt, first vice-chief for the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations in Saskatchewan, trailed with 39.3 per cent support on a sixth ballot late Wednesday night at the Shaw Centre in Ottawa.
Under the assembly charter, a candidate must secure 60 per cent of the vote to win. Voting was forced to an end as the convention centre was scheduled to close at midnight.
Woodhouse, from Pinaymootang First Nation in Manitoba, worked as an AFN negotiator for a $23-billion child and family services class-action settlement reached with Canada last year.
She succeeds RoseAnne Archibald atop the largest national Indigenous advocacy organization in Canada, after the change-oriented Ontario Cree leader was ousted earlier this year, following harassment allegations and two regional chief-led revolts.
Woodhouse is no stranger to the assembly’s recent turmoil, having been among the regional chiefs recommending Archibald’s removal, before declaring her own candidacy for the top job.
Woodhouse pitched a return to stability, promoting her past experience working for national chiefs Perry Bellegarde and Shawn Atleo and advancing a platform focused on issues like child welfare, justice and policing, economic development, and infrastructure.