'We need to unite': Sask. chief running for AFN leadership

Muskowekwan First Nations chief Reginald Bellerose has announced he’ll be running to be National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations.

“It’s a very critical time. One of the most important things is we need to unify our chiefs,” he said.

The current AFN Chief, Perry Bellegarde, who served as the Chief for the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations and Little Black Bear, is not seeking re-election.

Bellerose has served as the Chief of Muskowekwan First Nations for 17 years.

“There’s so many critical issues. Our focus needs to be on Ottawa,” Bellerose said. “Ottawa is passing a lot onto the province through their transfers.”

Economic sovereignty, rights and jurisdiction, health and wellness are issues Bellerose says need to be addressed.

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

He also joined the province and FSIN in calling for the federal government to help fund radar ground searches at residential schools in Saskatchewan.

His comment comes after 215 children’s bodies were found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.

“Those graves are still there, but there is no money.”

The AFN election is set for July 7 and is being held virtually.