- Shawn Atleo - Nuu-Chah-Nulth - current national chief
- Bill Erasmus - Dene - AFN regional chief for the Northwest Territories
- George Stanley - Cree from Frog Lake Alberta - Current Alberta AFN regional chief
- Pam Palmater - a lawyer and professor in Toronto - she is Mi'kmaw but lives in Ontario
- Terrance Nelson - Anishinabe - former chief of Roseau River Manitoba
- Joan Jack - Anishinabe , from the Berens River First Nation Manitoba
- Ellen Gabriel - community spokesperson during Oka
- Diane M Kelly - Anishinabe from the Ojibwe community of Onigaming in north western Ontario but based out of Manitoba
Among the eight candidates there are four women. There are also three anishinabe candidates from Manitoba/Ontario.
I personally think there are only three candidates with any serious campaign that could win - Shawn Atleo, Bill Erasmus and George Stanley. I am do think Shawn Atleo will be re-elected but could be in trouble if there is an anyone but Atleo campaign. I suspect that an anyone but Atleo move would solidify around Bill Erasmus. In 2009 there was a strong movement like this with the three candidates that dropped off the ballot all backing Perry Bellegrade
The relationship between Shawn Atleo and the current government is seen by a lot of aboriginal people as being too close and business like. This seems to be an ongoing tension in the AFN. Phil Fontaine lost 2000 to Matthew Coon-Come because he was seen as being much to cozy with the federal Liberals, he then won in 2003 because Matthew Coon-Come was seen as being to antagonistic with the government and nothing was happening to benefit First Nations. Ovide Mecredi was defeated in 1997 because he was seen as being in too much conflict with the government.
Shawn Atleo's relationship with the current government will be the primary issue in the election.
Diane Kelly is someone I know very little about so I really can not judge how strong a candidate she will be. She certainly seems to have strength among the Treaty 3 First Nations, but I have no idea about anywhere else.
Joan Jack, I know nothing about her and I can not find any significant support base for her.
Of the other five, three of are what I would call radical candidates - Terrance Nelson, Ellen Gabriel and Pam Palmater. I can not see any of them getting any significant vote but wonder if they support each other there could be a large enough block to decide the election on July 18th. They did have 15 people nominate each one of them which is about 7% of the total electorate and I think combined they have around 15% of the chiefs. Their problem is that the AFN rules require candidates to achieve 15% of the vote on the first ballot or otherwise they are dropped. Terrance Nelson did manage to get 10.32% of the vote on the first ballot in 2009. If one of them can muster 80 to 90 votes they will make to the next round.
My current guess of support
- Atleo 35%
- Erasmus 23%
- Stanley just shy of 15%
- Kelly 11%
- Nelson 10%
- Jack 2%
- Palmater 2%
- Gabriel 2%
If this does occur everyone but Shawn Atleo and Bill Erasmus would dropped from the second ballot. I think George Stanley is on the cusp of enough support to make it to the second ballot.