Perry Bellegarde was elected national chief of the Assembly of First Nations on the second ballot Wednesday after the other candidates accused the federal government of interfering in the outcome.
Perry took 328 votes in the second ballot to take more than 60 per cent of the vote to win his second term.
News from the AFN election
Thursday the Assembly of First Nations took time to honor the late Chief Mike Smith at this year’s assembly.
Re-elected Bellegarde looking to continue work on rights, child welfare
Grieving families address chiefs at the Assembly of First Nations gathering
APTN’s Amber Bernard gives us the latest from two candidates, Russ Diabo and Katherine Whitecloud.
APTN’s Rob Smith caught up with candidate Miles Richardson.
Special edition of APTN National News, with insight into the AFN National Chief Election.
From the assembly floor in Vancouver, APTN’s Chris Stewart brings us the grand entry of the AFN Annual General Assembly.
The five candidates running for National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations took part in a forum.
APTN’s Tina House brings us the latest from candidate Sheila North at the AFN gathering in Vancouver.
Meet the Candidates
The incumbent from Little Black Bear First Nation in Saskatchewan is vying for his second term as National Chief. While on the campaign trail, he has touted the $17 billion in pledged federal funding over seven years he helped secure for First Nations housing, child welfare and education. But he acknowledges there are still gaps between First Nations the rest of Canada.
“We’ve got momentum, but we’re not done yet,” he told APTN News.
A policy analyst from the Mohawk community of Kahnawake, Que., Diabo has worked for two past chiefs of the AFN – and been a vocal critic of the organization. He said he’s running to fundamentally reform the AFN and stand up to the Trudeau government’s proposed Indigenous legal rights framework. Diabo says the government is unilaterally defining Indigenous rights without consulting with First Nations.
“I think the National Chief has failed to keep control of the process,” he told APTN News. “He’s basically been a cheerleader for this government.”
Originally from Bunibonibee Cree Nation (Oxford House), North was the first woman elected grand chief of the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) in 2015. She’s also known for her advocacy work on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
If elected, North says she will work on bringing grassroots voices to the forefront of the AFN.
“We have to be accountable to our communities and our families, ultimately, our women and children. If they’re not safe, then none of us should be happy.”
The former president of the Haida Nation in B.C. believes the Assembly of First Nations is not a government, but a means of uniting Nations across the country. He believes the Indian Act is colonial and putting Indigenous peoples in “an increasingly acute crisis.”
“I believe we need to choose a new direction,” he told APTN News.
In 2007, Richardson was named to the Order of Canada.
As the former AFN regional chief for Manitoba, Whitecloud has worked on national portfolios including child welfare, education and languages. She also served as chief and councilor of the Wipazoka Wakpa Dakota Nation in Manitoba.
She said First Nations need to look beyond funding gaps and policies. They need to focus on nationhood.
“Funding is just a Band-Aid for what it is that we need to do as a people to move forward as a people.”