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Pitch to Build $2 Million Residence for AFN National Chief rejected

A pitch to establish a permanent $2-million Ottawa residence for the chief of the Assembly of First Nations was proposed and rejected this week.

One earlier pitch, which was rejected, proposed as much as $3.5-million in spending for “any variety of properties, together with furnishings,” to be used by organization's chiefs going forward.

Many were displeased with the proposal from the beginning. Northwest Territories Regional Chief Norman Yakeleya and Manitoba Regional Chief Cindy Woodhouse each opposed the use of money in such a way.

Yakeleya mentioned in an interview that many First Nations individuals struggle with accessing meals, clothes and shelter and clean water on a regular basis, and that money should be accordingly allocated on that basis, not towards higher-ups.

“Take a look at the on a regular basis individuals which might be on the market on this chilly climate in December, and it’s Christmastime,” he mentioned.

“And we wish to spend hundreds of thousands of {dollars} and we are able to justify by means of our insurance policies and procedures and the explanation why? Shouldn’t we give attention to serving our people who find themselves homeless, who want clothes, who want meals, who’re struggling daily to outlive, who’re sleeping on our streets and our buildings, who’re scraping for meals in rubbish bins, begging for meals?”

The proposal was first pitched on Monday by the AFN committee, which consists of Canada's regional chiefs alongside the incumbent national chief RoseAnne Archibald. Representing more than 900,000 First Nations individuals in Canada, Archibald was first elected back in July.

The proposal cited the “historic and speedy tempo of development in hire and buy costs within the higher Ottawa area” to justify the acquisition of a national residence. The AFN currently pays the AFN chief $3,600 monthly to cover dwelling costs in the capital.

Jamie Monastyrski, a press secretary for Archibald, noted that the national chief did not propose the move herself, but that it was a strategy to minimize the cost of housing going forward for the AFN's national representatives while in Ottawa.

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