In the Toronto Star, Tim Harper recounts the behind-the-scenes battles currently going in the Assembly of First Nations:
As he rode to a meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper last Friday, Shawn Atleo’s Blackberry buzzed.
“Since you have decided to betray me, all I ask of you now is to help carry my cold dead body off this island,” the text message said.
It was sent in the name of Chief Theresa Spence, but those who saw the text believe it came from someone else in her circle on Victoria Island.
But they were certain about one thing — the timing, moments before he went into one of the most important meetings of his life, was meant to destabilize the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations and undermine his efforts at a meeting which many in his organization fiercely opposed.
The missive distilled two vicious strains coursing through the internal fighting at the AFN — the threats and intimidation under which its leadership is functioning, and the growing sense from some that the Attawapiskat chief, now entering day 38 of a liquid diet with the temperature dipping to -27C here, is being used as a pawn in an internal political struggle.
To attend last week’s meeting Atleo already had to leave his Ottawa office from a back door to get out of a building with angry chiefs trying to blockade him inside.
He would have to enter the Langevin Block for the meeting through a back door for the same reason.
There have been no shortage of charges, countercharges and denials within the organization over the past weeks and the truth in this saga is often elusive.