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ACFN Chief chosen as Aboriginal mover and shaker
Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation tops the list of the nine Aboriginal movers and shakers as chosen by Postmedia.
“It makes me feel like I’m doing my job,” said Adam of his selection. He is joined on the list by Cindy Blackstock, executive director of the First Nations Child and Caring Society and associate professor at the University of Alberta, Truth and Reconciliation Commission chair Justice Murray Sinclair, former Assembly of First Nations National Chief Phil Fontaine, and Romeo Saganash, NDP leadership hopeful and MP for Abitibi—Baie James—Nunavik—Eeyou.
In selecting Adam, Postmedia noted, “Over the past four years, Adam has been a loud voice of opposition against the oilsands, demanding a comprehensive study on the effect of the controversial development on the health of his community. … He has also repeatedly demanded a seat at the table with developers and the federal government....”
Locally, Adam was selected as the Slave River Journal’s newsmaker of 2011. SRJ serves northern Alberta and the south Slave region of the Northwest Territories.
Adam is only just hitting his stride in raising issues and addressing concerns as, he points out, he has completed his first four-year term as chief and has begun his second term in that position. He was returned with an overwhelming amount of support from the ACFN membership.
The Slave River Journal noted that Adam was among many in Fort Chipewyan, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, to bring the plight of the northern community to the forefront.
“Adam just happened to acquire the chief’s job at a time when his attitude and abilities fit perfectly with everything else happening around him,” said the Journal.
The Journal tagged Adam as “unique” because “he has turned down the perks of industry. He has rejected short-term benefits, cash and status in order to focus on his people’s concerns with what is happening to the water, land and animals.”
Adam said ACFN is implementing a strategy that cannot be revealed yet, but does include legal action.
“We keep plugging up the system and jamming them where it hurts them. We know what strings to pull and where to go and that’s what we’re going to be doing,” he said.
ACFN has threatened legal action against the provincial government regarding the new Lower Athabasca Regional Plan which did not reflect concerns raised by First Nations; has taken legal against the federal government to force protection of the woodland caribou; and launched a lawsuit against Shell Canada for development in traditional ACFN territory.
“We’ve carefully planned out strategies where we need to attack,” said Adam.
Last year, the ACFN were accepted as members of the Dene Nation in a move to strengthen the voice of the Dene people and to provide a valuable ally with those in the Northwest Territories.
“If we’re successful in accomplishing our goals at the end, not only ACFN will benefit, a lot of First Nations across Alberta and throughout Canada will benefit from it,” said Adam.
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