National Chief Atleo graduated with a Master of Education degree in Adult Learning and Global Change from the University of Technology, Sydney, Australia, in partnership with the University of British Columbia. In 2008, his commitment to education was recognized with his appointment as Chancellor of Vancouver Island University, making him BC’s first Indigenous Chancellor.
National Chief Atleo began his career as a facilitator, trainer and entrepreneur working with and for First Nations peoples. And in 2012, he was awarded the Queen Elizabeth ll Diamond Jubilee Medal for his advocacy work on behalf of First Nations across Canada. Chief Atleo also served two terms as Regional Chief of the BC Assembly of First Nations. During this time, he made a commitment to the principles of working together through inclusion and respect. In March 2005, an historic Leadership Accord was signed among First Nations leadership in BC.
Advancing a vision of supporting and enabling the success of every First Nation on the basis of its rights and responsibilities, National Chief Atleo and the AFN National Executive have taken forward a bold plan of action and engagement with all sectors of Canadian society.
In 2012, National Chief Atleo, along with Prime Minster Stephen Harper and the Governor General of Canada, presided over the historic Crown First Nations Gathering. This reaffirmed his strong commitment to First Nations rights, title and Treaties, as well as the priority of First Nations control of First Nations education. First Nations from across the country support National Chief Atleo in confirming education as a top priority for the Assembly of First Nations.
National Chief Atleo is supported by and gains strength from his partner Nancy, and their two adult children, Tyson and Tara.
Cape Breton University confers the degree Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, on a man who has used traditional teachings to guide him to serve First Nations as a leader, facilitator, mediator, planner and teacher, Shawn A-in-chut Atleo.