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FSIN Chief Perry Bellegarde running for AFN chief

Perry Bellegarde, chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, announces he is running to become chief of the Assembly of First Nations.
Perry Bellegarde, chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, announces he is running to become chief of the Assembly of First Nations. Brent McGillvray / Global News

SASKATOON – The head of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) is looking to becoming chief of a national organization.

Perry Bellegarde announced Wednesday in Saskatoon he is looking to become chief of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN).

“I am committed to being a catalyst for positive change for First Nations across Canada,” stated Bellegarde in a release.

“I want to see Aboriginal rights and title and our Treaty rights recognized, honoured and implemented,”

Bellegarde said if elected, he will focus on establishing processes for self-determination, setting up a new fiscal relationship with the federal government and come up with an action plan and inquiry on missing and murdered aboriginal women.

“Our people need and deserve effective leadership that is based on extensive experience and an exceptional degree of focus. I am committed to delivering exactly that.”

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The AFN position became vacant earlier this year when Shawn Atleo resigned in May amid controversy over his support of a federal First Nations education bill.

Bellegarde previously ran for chief of the AFN in 2009, eventually losing to Atleo on the eighth ballot. He has served as the Saskatchewan regional chief with the national organization.

In 2012, Bellegarde was re-elected chief of the FSIN after serving two consecutive terms starting in 1995.

During his first time in office, Bellegarde signed a 25-year gaming agreement with the province and spearheaded a national compensation package for First Nation veterans and their families.

Federal funding cuts earlier this year almost forced the FSIN to lay off 66 staff, but cuts to vice-chief salaries and tapping into other revenue sources allowed the organization to keep most of the staff.

Ghislain Picard, who is the current interim AFN chief, has also announced he is running for the position.

The new leader will be electing in Winnipeg in December.