P.E.I. chiefs applaud Assembly of First Nations election results
Perry Bellegarde has the experience, charisma 'to deal with not only government but First Nation leaders'
First Nation chiefs on P.E.I. say they are delighted with last week's AFN election results.
On Wednesday, the Assembly of First Nations voted to give Perry Bellegarde a second term as national chief.
Bellegarde won 328 of 522 eligible votes.
There were five candidates on the first ballot.
Chief Brian Francis, leader of the Abegweit First Nation, said after researching the candidates and listening to their speeches, Bellegarde got his vote.
'Has that charisma'
"Perry has the ongoing experience, nationally, internationally, works very well with government, pushes our agenda forward very effectively, has that charisma to deal with not only government but First Nation leaders," he said.
The election ran into controversy when, amid voting on the first ballot, Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett met with Alberta chiefs. One of the other candidates, Russ Diabo, accused Bennett of interfering in the election.
Francis said he doesn't think the meeting had an effect on the outcome and disagrees with criticism that Bellegarde is too cozy with the federal government.
"You work with whatever government is in at that time because you have to work as best you can with whoever is in power," Francis said.
Francis said one of the most important issues for P.E.I. is education and moving forward on reconciliation.
"Now's the time to get it going. It's not going to be a quick fix, it's going be a long fix. There are many different ways to promote meaningful reconciliation but it has to be done or we'll never move ahead," he said.
"Canada will never move ahead as a country with its Indigenous people. We will never move ahead as Indigenous people, just stuck in that rut."
Matilda Ramjattan, chief of the Lennox Island First Nation, said in a statement to CBC that she's also very happy with the AFN election results.
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With files from Laura Chapin