The chief Bellegarde re-elected to the Assembly of First Nations

Le chef Bellegarde réélu à l'Assemblée des Premières Nations

Photo: Ben Nelms, The canadian Press
Perry Bellegarde has been given a second mandate on the position of national chief of the AFN on Wednesday, collecting 63% of the vote.

The dissatisfaction of some leaders of the national Assembly of First Nations will not have had because of its national leader outgoing. Perry Bellegarde has been nice to have been accused by his four rivals in the electoral to be too compliant with Ottawa, he has, nevertheless, been re-elected by the community leaders who were gathered in general assembly in Vancouver.

At the end of two rounds of voting, Perry Bellegarde has been given a second mandate on the position of national chief of the AFN on Wednesday, collecting 63 % of the vote.

“We have work to do together,” quipped Perry Bellegarde, in the wake of his victory. “A single person cannot do anything alone. We need your strength, ” he launched to the heads meeting, promising to work to improve housing, education, health care communities and to return to First Nations of their lands and the resources found there. “We’re going to make sure that all of this comes back to where it should be. “

Of the 635 communities represented by the Assembly of First Nations, 538 had dispatched their leader or a representative to take part in the election. It took two rounds of voting for one of five candidates for harvest beyond 60 % of the vote needed to win the victory. Perry Bellegarde, Saskatchewan, had received 53 % support in the first round.

But his victory did not happen smoothly. Elected three years ago to succeed Shawn Atleo, who was forced to resign in front of the critics of his leadership, Mr. Bellegarde was in turn accused of being too close to the federal government of Justin Trudeau.

“We need a national leader who can sit at the table with the liberals without becoming one of them “, said Tuesday the candidate Sheila North, the leader of a gathering of 30 First Nations in Manitoba. She came in second to the outcome of the vote on Wednesday.

The indigenous activists will not be silenced

— Jason MacLean

Sheila North and the other candidates had portrayed the election as a choice between the immutability of the relationship with the federal government and a claim is more sustained, and without compromise of indigenous rights. “You have a critical choice to make on the future of our aboriginal peoples in this country. The choice between the status quo, and the status of nation “, had pleaded Miles Richardson, of the British Columbia.

The candidate Russell Diabo, from Kahnawake, for its part, had denounced, as several members of the communities, the willingness of Ottawa to drop this fall of a bill that enchâssera the ancestral rights of the aboriginal peoples in the federal law in order to propose a legal framework to self-determination. “They are doing all of this without our participation and without our consent. “

Perry Bellegarde well have defended his record at the opening of the assembly of the NPC, the discontent of the communities will not, according to two experts.

The crossroads

“I will fight for the rights of the aboriginal people. I’ve done it all my life, I do it today “, had hammered the national chief on the eve of the election.

However, despite his victory, Perry Bellegarde will have “start listening to the leaders of indigenous communities on the ground,” said Claudette Commanda, who is a member of the band council Kitigan Zibi and a professor at the University of Ottawa. “No matter the leader, it is necessary to work with the government, but you must never compromise on our principles. “

Jason MacLean, of the University of Saskatchewan, believes that the criticism of the rivals of Perry Bellegarde will not be forgotten. Because the indigenous activists feel that the strategy of the NPC in recent years, to work with the government to influence it, is a failure.

This teacher in environmental law, who has studied the report of the aboriginal communities in the environment, predicted that the victory of Mr. Bellegarde will be followed by a fractionation of the AFN, because the discontent of the communities in the place of the Trudeau government — in particular because of its political and financial support to the pipeline, Trans Mountain is deep. “The indigenous activists will not be silenced. If the NPC takes up with Mr. Bellegarde, it may well lose its legitimacy among a large part of its members “, did he predict the end of the first round of voting.

Carolyn Bennett in embarrassment

The minister of Relations Crown-Aboriginal, Carolyn Bennett, has sown discord in the meeting with the chiefs of the First Nations in Alberta in the morning. The four candidates who opposed Perry Bellegarde and they promptly accused of trying to influence the election of the national chief. This is another example of the cronyism between the government and Perry Bellegarde, has launched Sheila North. “The government does not want to change” at the head of the AFN, she argued, disputing in vain with the three other candidates for Wednesday’s vote.

The office of Ms. Bennett has denied any interference. The minister had been invited by the regional chief of the province within the AFN, has asserted its office, and “at no time” the election was not discussed.