(Ottawa, ON): On September 9, 2015 Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde released the following statement:
“As National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations and a First Nations leader who has held elected office for 26 years, I believe that being non-partisan is essential. I honour and trust the wisdom of many First Nations Knowledge Keepers, Chiefs and leaders who have told me in the past that, as a leader, it is essential to be non-partisan.
“As Indigenous peoples, our relationship is with the Crown, rather than one political party. And I must work with the entire Crown. This is why I have not voted in federal elections. I have been encouraging First Nations people to vote because our people and priorities matter and we can be an important factor in this election.
“Last week, I listened to First Nations Elders, leaders, citizens and young people from across our territories. The message to me is consistent and clear: “It is vital that First Nations voices be heard in every way possible, including through the ballot box. You need to be an example. You need to vote.”
“I have reassessed my longstanding practice and will vote on October 19th to reinforce my message that First Nations priorities must be Canada’s priorities and that we must close the gap in the quality of life between First Nations people and Canadians. Our future is Canada’s future and we can build a stronger country together.
“On October 19th, I will vote in this federal election in support of a government committed to closing the gap between First Nations people and Canadians. I continue to encourage all First Nations people to vote.”