December 10th 2014 AFN Election Results
Perry Bellegarde 291 62.9%
Ghislain Picard 136 29.4%
Leon Jourdaine 35 7.6%
I am surprised the vote turnout was so low. There are 636 eligible First Nation Chiefs that could vote in the election, though some of them do not take part in the elections. I was expecting 550 or so votes to be cast but only 463 were cast. With Perry Bellegarde and Ghislain Picard campaigning seriously I would have expected them to get more Chiefs to the AFN convention or at least managed to get more proxies. I guess the better question is why Ghislain Picard, the interim National Chief, did so badly.
Here is the total number of votes cast in the last six AFN elections:
2014 463 - 1 ballot
2012 540 - 3 ballots
2009 552 - 8 ballots
2006 496 - 1 ballot - (there was no serious race this year)
2003 566 - 2 ballots
2000 494 - 2 ballots
So what does this low turnout out mean? I think it speaks to the decreasing importance of the AFN nationally and I think highlights the fundamental divisions among the chiefs of the country.
Perry Bellegarde ran in 2009 where after the first ballot only he and Sean Atleo remained on the ballot but it took seven more ballots before Bellegarde conceded defeat. The election highlighted the very divided nature of the AFN at the moment. Shawn Atleo won easily in 2012 but that was mainly because there was no strong serious challenger, still there was a lot of Chiefs in the country with no love for Atleo. Atleo resigned suddenly a year early which I understand happened because he effectively lost the confidence of too many of the Chiefs.
The AFN is very heavily dominated by the Cree and First Nations with close ties to the Cree, 160 or so in total. This is a very large portion of the possible AFN voters. The election of Perry Bellegarde puts the Cree back into the power position within the AFN, but the Cree interests are not the same as the interests of BC First Nations. The Cree are more or less all Treaty First Nations whereas BC has very few First Nations that have settled a Treaty. This difference fundamentally changes the way the First Nations and the Crown interact and will always cause an internal friction within the AFN.
Chiefs of the National Indian Brotherhood/Assembly of First Nations
- 1968–1970 – Walter Dieter - Cree - Saskatchewan
- 1970–1976 – George Manuel - Secwempec - BC
- 1976–1980 – Noel Starblanket - Cree - Saskatchewan
- 1980–1982 – Delbert Riley - Chippewa - Ontario
- Name changed in 1982 to Assembly of First Nations
- 1982–1985 – David Ahenakew - Cree - Saskatchewan
- 1985–1991 – Georges Erasmus - Dene - NWT
- 1991–1997 – Ovide Mercredi - Cree - Manitoba
- 1997–2000 – Phil Fontaine - Nakawē - Manitoba
- 2000–2003 – Matthew Coon Come - Cree - Quebec
- 2003–2009 – Phil Fontaine - Nakawē - Manitoba
- 2009–2014 – Shawn Atleo - Nuu-Chah-Nulth - BC
- 2014 - Ghislain Picard interim National Chief for 5 months - Innu - Quebec
- 2014-current - Perry Bellegarde - Cree - Saskatchewan