FSIN endorses Reginald Bellerose’s bid to head the Assembly of First Nations

Muskowekwan First Nation Chief Reginald Bellerose is running to replace Perry Bellegarde as head of the Assembly of First Nations. File / Global News

The organization representing First Nations in Saskatchewan is throwing its support behind a local leader in his bid to become the new chief of the Assembly of First Nations.

Muskowekwan First Nation Chief Reginald Bellerose is running to replace Perry Bellegarde as head of the AFN.

Bellegarde announced in December 2020 that he would not seek re-election. He was first elected national chief of the AFN in 2014.

Bellerose has been chief of the Muskowekwan First Nation for 17 years and said he seeks unity among all chiefs across Canada.

“It’s a very critical time and the most important thing is we need to unify our chiefs. We need to find one agenda. We need to have a unified vision,” Bellerose said Thursday at a news conference.

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“We need to unite to come together and form an intense strategy to influence public policy in Ottawa. It’s federal legislation that we really need to work on.”

Bellerose said part of his platform includes First Nations history.

His First Nation is the site of the former Muscowequan Indian Residential School, where at least 35 unmarked burial sites have been discovered over the years.

He said history cannot be erased and if residential schools come down, history is erased.

“We got to keep our stories alive. We have to keep all of our knowledge. It’s still here. We have to pass it on to future generations,” Bellerose said.

The digital economy is another area Bellerose wants to focus on.

“We don’t want to be on welfare. We want jobs. We want careers. We want opportunities,” he said.

“We need to create a new economy that’s digital. We need to create our own currency… we’ve got to start thinking differently.”

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations said Bellerose has the experience to replace Bellegarde.

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“Chief Bellerose has led his nation for more than 17 years and sits on a number of boards and task forces within the province and at the national level and AFN, due to his extensive knowledge in business, gaming and other areas,” the FSIN executive said in a statement Thursday.

“Most recently, as the chair of SIGA, Chief Bellerose was instrumental in securing $43 million for the First Nations Trust and Community Development Corporations from the province.”

The FSIN said Bellerose securing that funding is important for the economic development of their communities.

The funding will also support infrastructure and youth in First Nations, the FISN said.

“Chief Bellerose is dedicated to the success of First Nations across all treaty territories and beyond,” the FSIN said.

“We fully support his bid and believe he would be a great fit for AFN national chief.”

The AFN will elect a new national chief on July 7.

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan First Nation remembering lives lost at residential schools'
Saskatchewan First Nation remembering lives lost at residential schools

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