By Lynda Powless
VANCOUVER- Perry Bellegarde has won a second term as Assembly of First Nations National Chief.
Bellegarde won on the second ballot with 328 votes out of the 522 cast. The winner was required to take 314 or 60%.
Bellegarde led on the first ballot with 286 votes or 53%.
Sheila North received 125 votes, Mike Richardson received 59 votes Russ Diabo received 10 votes.
The AFN charter is specific the person who gains the majority of 60% wins. Anyone with 15 votes or less will be eliminated.
North congratulated all the candidates who put their names up for the election. She said its a difficult thing to and all made “incredible sacrifices to let their names stand.”
She wished National Chief Perry Bellegarde well.
Bellegarde was sworn into his second term and in his address said the fact that the youth are learning their language is hope for the future.
He said the diversity of the people there is one thing that binds Indigenous peoples country wide, is the drum. He said the drum brought the people back together at the assembly and it will help keep the people united into the future.
He said the work begins again the morning. “We have work to do together.”
He said one person can’t do anything alone. He said “this is a humbling experience. It’s a great experience and why we let ourselves serve in public service no matter what the level, at the reserve or tribal councils or PTOs or national organizations, we are trying to make a difference for our people. And as a leader or helper servant, that is all we are.”
He said they may carry terms of chiefs or grand chiefs “but we are helpers of the people.”
In his acceptance speech Bellegarde told the assembly “There are two things will always guide us. It’s this world view. Our world view as Indigenous Peoples is a very important piece. In my travels across Canada seeking this position and listening to elders, youth and chiefs and councils in every community and territory one thing kept coming up. How do we now as Indigenous Peoples, First Nations people move beyond these two things that have created havoc in our lives. The residential school and colonization of the Indian act and exert ourselves as nations.”
He said when Canada’s 150 anniversary came Indigenous People asked why are we celebrating? “We said we are not celebrating but will participate because after all those things, the genocide, the loss of language and cutting of our long hair we are still here as First Nations people and our languages and ceremonies are getting stronger. ”
He told the assembly “It’s the next 150 years that, that chapter about Canada’s history will be written and when I see these young people hanging onto their language there is hope, and bright light, and that’s what I saw in this tour of Canada. Moving beyond 150 years to build a better country for all of us, and this gap will be closed. Land and resources coming back its assumed crown jurisdiction and we will get back this land That’s what I see. That’s my vision, my hope and we need to get together to do that.”
He said if Indigenous People can adopt “our Indigenous world view locally, nationally and internationally we will create a better world and a better society.”
Chiefs from First Nations communities are wrapping up their convention in Vancouver .