The former assistant treaty negotiator for Port Alberni’s Hupacasath First Nation wants to represent B.C. on one of Canada’s largest First Nation’s political organizations – the Assembly of First Nations.
Shana Manson, whose aboriginal name is Lahalawuts, announced her candidacy for the position of B.C. AFN regional chief.
“I am humbled and honoured to accept nomination for the office of the B.C. AFN Regional Chief. I look forward to sharing my platform and reaching out to chiefs and communities from around B.C.,” Manson said.
The BCAFN advocates for the political interests of 203 member first nations in the province.
Regional chiefs from each province make up the National Assembly of First Nations (AFN), which is headed by national chief is Shawn A-in-chut Atleo. Jody Wilson-Raybould is the incumbent B.C. regional chief.
Manson, who is a married mother of three, worked for the Hupacasath as a treaty negotiator and communications officer from 2007 to 2009. She is a former commissioner with the B.C. Treaty Commission, and she served three terms on the Lyackson band council.
Manson remembers her time in Alberni distinctly, she said. “The Hupacasath were able to blow the roof off the BC government for conflict when they uncovered that the government pension fund were investing in a logging company that was going to receive new opportunities as a result of TFL 44,” she said.
The federal government is poised to cut back funding to aboriginal organizations across the country, the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council included, something she vows to help advocate against as regional chief.
“These cut backs affect all First Nations peoples, and we need a strong advocate as BC Regional Chief, and I feel I am the candidate to do the job,” she said.
Manson has an education to back up her political experience. She earned an BA in political science and an MA in indigenous governance, both from UVIC. And she is also a sessional instructor (as needed) for the First Nations Studies Department at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo.
Aboriginal people are living in one of the most challenging times and that kind of background is needed right now, Manson said.
“The agenda of Stephen Harper’s Conservative government is to erode the inherent rights, title and treaty rights of first nations peoples,” Manson said. “We have to stand together to protect our rights. That is the source of everything we have.”
The election for AFN B.C. Regional Chief takes place in Vancouver on Nov. 26-27.