Ghislain Picard, 63, will have another four years to lobby on behalf of communities in Quebec and Labrador after a vote Wednesday.
Picard, the longest serving regional chief of the Assembly of First Nations, won the election easily beating out challenger Gilbert Dominique 30 votes to nine.
Picard has been representing First Nation communities since 1992.
He said the key to his longevity is constant evolution.
“It’s a capacity to be reinventing yourself, so that you stay the course,” he said.
But you know, operate differently.”
This is the start of Picard’s 10th consecutive mandate. Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde applauded Picard’s re-election.
“Through his leadership he has made significant contributions to the Assembly of First Nations and First Nations across the country. I value his extensive experience and deep knowledge of our issues,” said Bellegarde in a press release.
Kahnasatake Grand Chief Serge Simon said he voted for Picard because his record speaks for itself.
“His experience, his will to listen to people, I think that really strikes a positive chord in people, whether you’re chief or not, he’s also a very good diplomat when it comes to bringing our message to the government,” said Simon.
Gilbert Dominique is the former chief of Mashteuiatsh First Nation.
He was gracious in defeat – but during the campaign, Dominique was nonetheless critical of the AFNQL’s dealings with Quebec.
“Our relations with Quebec need to be rebuilt,” he said. “With Quebec there are daily issues that are relevant to the Assembly of First Nations, I’m thinking especially of the question of territory, we didn’t think to aspire to fully assume our autonomy.”
Picard said that the AFNQL did a good job bringing First Nation issues to the forefront of the 2018 Quebec election.
He said he met with Quebec Premier Francois Legault after and is cautiously optimistic that it will be a better relationship than with the previous government.
“How do we take advantage of that situation, and feed it because we know that governments quickly forget, so to me that’s why we have to stay that course and make sure that this government will have an open ear,” Picard said.
Picard, from Pessamit First Nation may have years of work ahead of him if chiefs have their way.
“I think Ghislain, it’s going to have to come down to him eventually, whether he moves on,” said Simon. “Because the chiefs, I don’t think they’re ready to let him go.”