Leading the Way for First Nations Learners

Leading the Way for First Nations Learners

National Chief Shawn Atleo on his drive to improve opportunities for aboriginal people in Canada. First in an occasional series.

By Katie Hyslop, Yesterday, Tyee Solutions Society


Shawn Atleo, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, disliked school as a boy. Now he’s a champion for learning. Photo by Lysosome46. Graphic by April A

Like most youth fresh out of high school today, Shawn A-in-chut Atleo didn’t have a plan or even much care about his post-secondary education when he attended Trinity Western University in the late 1980s. The current national chief of the Assembly of First Nations did not major in political science, First Nations studies, or even education. He excelled in soccer.

“I was really good in soccer, got great marks,” Atleo told The Tyee Solutions Society with a smile, at our Vancouver office for an interview this past May.

Accepted into Simon Fraser University, University of British Columbia (UBC), and the private Christian Trinity Western University (TWU), Atleo chose TWU because it was far away from mom and dad. Just 17 years old, he was ready to get out from underneath the watchful eye of his parents, both educators and academics in their own right.  Read more…