Despite constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Treaty rights and decades of court cases affirming these rights, First Nations continue to face serious social and economic challenges. The way forward requires governments and all Canadians to recognize the legal imperative of reconciliation and the economic potential it represents to First Nations and Canada as a whole. Such potential is evident in the opportunity for First Nation-driven economic and resource development, partnerships with the private sector and the creation of an educated and skilled labour force. Reconciliation is not only a moral issue. It can be a key contributor to Canada's competitiveness as well as generating justice, hope and opportunity for First Nations.
National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo is a Hereditary Chief from the Ahousaht First Nation. In July 2009, A-in-chut was elected to a three-year mandate as National Chief to the Assembly of First Nations.
As National Chief, Atleo has advanced priorities of education and sustainable economic development through recognition of First Nation government rights and responsibility. In June 2011, National Chief Atleo together with the National Congress of American Indians hosted the first International Indigenous Summit on Energy and Mining. This highly successful event - brought First Nations together with industry and government agencies highlighting the incredible potential of advancing First Nation economic interests. National Chief Atleo has consistently reached out to international interests in Europe, South America and Asia emphasizing the opportunity of working in partnership with First Nations.
Atleo graduated in 2003 with a Masters of Education in Adult Learning and Global Change from the University of Technology, Sydney, Australia (in partnership with University of British Columbia, University of Western Cape South Africa, and University of Linkoping Sweden). In 2008, Atleo's commitment to education was recognized in his appointment as Chancellor of Vancouver Island University, becoming BC's first indigenous Chancellor. He received an honourary doctorate of laws degree in Education from Ontario's Nipissing University June 2010.
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Atleo is supported by and gains strength from his partner of 25 years Nancy and their two adult children, Tyson and Tara. Traditional teachings have guided Atleo to serve First Nations as a leader, facilitator, mediator, planner and teacher.