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Blaine Favel has moved into the spotlight of the international political stage. Early in January, Favel accepted a posting with the federal government. His appointment as Counsellor on International Indigenous Issues was announced on Friday, January 9, 1998.
Lloyd Axworthy, Minister of Foreign Affairs, stated that the newly created position was designed as part of a strategy on Indigenous economic and cultural development. "[Blaine Favel] will provide, in particular, input and policy advice on Canadian positions concerning Indigenous issues at the United Nations, the Organization of American States and other international fora."
The appointment was made public two days after the release of the federal government's Aboriginal Action Plan. Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development Minister Jane Stewart lauded Favel's Ambassadorship as part of the federal government's commitment to partnering with Aboriginal people. "The plan makes specific references to international partnerships and increased access to overseas markets," said Minister Stewart.
"I'm pleased that the Government is serious in its
Assembly of First Nations Grand Chief Phil Fontaine also supported the selection of Favel for the position. "This appointment will support the strengthening of First Nations' initiatives in the fields of economic and business development, not only in Canada but also around the world," he said.
Blaine Favel began his political career in 1992 when he was elected Chief of the Poundmaker First Nation. In 1994, he became Chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN). He was elected to his second term in a landslide victory last year.
Favel is the first person from Saskatchewan to receive a federal diplomatic appointment of this magnitude. His first ambassadorial assignment involves analysis of trade opportunities for the Indigenous peoples of Central America and Mexico.
The FSIN Indian Government Commission and Executive Council accepted Favel's resignation on January 15, 1998. At this meeting, a resolution was passed recognizing the contributions Chief Favel has made for the benefit of Saskatchewan First Nations. During his term in office, the FSIN deficit has been effectively eliminated, the First Nations Bank of Canada was launched, four First Nations casinos were developed and opened and the Office of the Treaty Commissioner was renewed with an expanded mandate.
In accordance with the FSIN Convention Act, First Vice-Chief Morley Watson has assumed the position of Interim Chief of the FSIN. A by-election for the FSIN's top position has been scheduled for April 27-28, 1998 in Saskatoon. Although speculation is flying high, at the time of printing, no formal declarations of candidacy had been made. The deadline for candidates to declare themselves is March 27, 1998.