The Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations has elected their new chief.
Perry Bellegarde of Little Black Bear First Nation was voted in as the new chief Thursday afternoon and said he was “humbled and honored” at the fact he was elected. Shortly after his swearing in, he told reporters he wants to bridge the “socio-economic gap” between the province and its Aboriginal communities.
“This economy in Saskatchewan is booming, (it’s) really going well based on lands and resources and things like that, but it’s going to go even better when First Nations are part of that economic boon,” said Bellegarde. “That means partnerships, that means education and training (and) investing in the fastest growing segment of this population and that’s First Nations youth.”
He also said he wants to build on the FSIN’s past successes—like the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technology—but also work to make it a more responsive organization for all of its members.
Bellegarde managed to secure 488 of 910 votes, beating out other candidates, Delbert Wapass and Morley Watson.
Third vice-chief Edward (Dutch) Lerat also won by acclamation at the assembly.
Also elected was first vice-chief Kim Jonathan of Wahpeton First Nation, who is the first woman to hold an executive position and she said she hopes to set an example for young Aboriginal women.
“I’ve been told, when I was a young girl growing up, you listen to the elders, you carry yourself with respect and dignity and today we’ve shown that that pays off,” said Jonathan.
Jonathan beat out her competitor, Sheldon Wuttunee by just 9 votes.