Canada's Assembly of First Nations elects new leader

News conference on the negotiations related to compensation and long-term reform of First Nations Child and Family Services, in Ottawa

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's Assembly of First Nations (AFN) on Thursday elected Manitoba regional chief Cindy Woodhouse as its new leader, replacing the previous national chief who was removed by the Indigenous advocacy group in June after leadership complaints.

Woodhouse, who was born and raised in an Anishinaabe community in Manitoba and graduated from the University of Winnipeg, is the second woman in a row to be elected to the position of AFN national chief.

AFN seeks to advance First Nations rights through development policy, public education and co-development of legislation, according the organization's website.

First Nations accounted for about 2.8% of Canada's population, according to the 2021 census.

Woodhouse was declared winner in voting that started on Wednesday with six candidates, with the field eventually narrowing down to Woodhouse and David Pratt, the vice-chief for the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations in Saskatchewan. Pratt conceded to Woodhouse on Thursday.

At a press conference, Woodhouse expressed gratitude for her election and said she would get to work immediately.

"I will be on the phone this afternoon because our people need housing and our people need economic development. We need policing and justice for our communities," she said.

Woodhouse led negotiations and eventually settled with the federal government earlier this year for a C$23.34 billion ($17.18 billion) agreement to compensate First Nations children and families for the decades of harm caused by a discriminatory welfare system.

Her predecessor, RoseAnne Archibald - the first woman to be national AFN chief - was ousted in June after an external investigation found Archibald harassed two employees and five others had experienced reprisals, according to CBC News. Archibald disputed those findings.

($1 = 1.3587 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Ismail Shakil; Editing by Sandra Maler)