Perry Bellegarde elected AFN National Chief

Chief Perry BellegardePerry Bellegarde, chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations has been elected the new national leader for the Assembly of First Nations. Voting took place in Winnipeg, Alberta and as of late Tuesday, 406 chiefs and proxies were registered to vote.

One of the three candidates needs 60 per cent of the ballots cast to win, and Bellegarde took 63%.

The last chief to hold the title was Sean Atleo, and the interim leader was Ghislain Picard.

The more than 400 registered voters represent 63 per cent of 639 chiefs across Canada who are eligible to cast a ballot.

Belegarde will have an extra six months added to his three-year term as the organization restructures.

National Chief Perry Bellegarde after being elected in on December 10, 2014  (Photo: Facebook)

"It is absolutely essential and in the interests of all Canadians that we address and finally begin to close the long standing and unacceptable gaps between First Nations and non-First Nations people in Canada," says a statement on Bellegarde's website. "First Nations do not seek better education – we seek the same. First Nations employment opportunities need to match those of other Canadians. First Nations health resources need to mirror those available to non-First Nations people while being culturally-based and appropriate.  And First Nations must be economically self-sufficient based upon our inherent Aboriginal and Treaty rights.

"When First Nations statistics are applied to the United Nations Human Development Index (HDI), the living conditions of First Nations people in Canada are ranked as 63rd in the world while living conditions for Canadians overall are ranked as 6th. This difference can no longer be tolerated.

"Chief Bellegarde has dedicated his entire life for the time when First Nations people in Saskatchewan are living under the same conditions and enjoying the same opportunities as everyone else. As National Chief, he will bring this passion to all First Nations in Canada."

Bellegarde taking the oath as the new AFN National Chief