Chief Perry Bellegarde
Perry Bellegarde’s career has been marked by his unwavering commitment to be of service to the First Nations people. Currently Chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, he has also served as Chief and Councillor for Little Black Bear, Tribal Representative of the Touchwood-File Hills-Qu’Appelle Tribal Council, Chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN), and Regional Vice Chief for the Assembly of First Nations (AFN). In addition, he served as Vice President of Labour and Aboriginal Initiatives for the Crown Investments Corporation of Saskatchewan.
Chief Bellegarde and his five brothers were raised on Little Black Bear, in Saskatchewan, by their parents, Yvonne and Charles. Through his family, he learned the values of respect, hard work and the importance of education. Chief Bellegarde is recipient of the Queen’s Jubilee Medal, the Saskatchewan Medal and the Confederation Medal. In 1984, Perry became the first Treaty Indian to graduate from the University of Regina with a Bachelor of Administration. In March 2012, he graduated from the Certified Corporate Board Training through The Directors College sponsored by the Conference Board of Canada and McMaster University’s DeGroote School of Business.
Guided by the teachings of First Nations Elders and Chiefs, Chief Bellegarde is a strong advocate for inherent and treaty rights. While Tribal Representative of the Touchwood-File Hills-Qu’Appelle Tribal Council, he brought together Elders, Chiefs and elected leaders—First Nations and non-First Nations—to restore the original Treaty Four grounds to reserve status in the town of Fort Qu’Appelle. This meant uniting the communities that are the original signatories to Treaty Four. In a deeply moving ceremony, the grounds were returned to reserve status. He also facilitated the transfer of the Fort Qu’Appelle Indian Hospital to First Nations control. This led the way to the new multi-million dollar All Nations Healing Hospital, a healing centre serving First Nations and non-First Nations communities alike.
Chief Bellegarde continues to serve as spokesperson for Treaty Four regarding unfinished Treaty business. Chief Bellegarde has been honoured with the bestowing of two Eagle feather headdresses. In 1995, he was presented with his first headdress by Chief Brian McNabb. At the ceremony led by Elder Gordon Oakes, he was given the Cree name, Okemow Peeasew Awasis (King Thunderbird Child). In 1998, following his election as FSIN Chief and Regional AFN Vice Chief, Perry was given his second headdress during a swearing-in ceremony with the FSIN Senators.
During his tenure, Perry spearheaded the national compensation package for First Nations Veterans and their spouses. Alongside the National First Nations Veterans Association, he fought to help First Nations Veterans get some of the compensation and benefits they deserved but did not receive upon their return to Canada after their military service. As FSIN Chief, Perry negotiated and signed the twenty-five year gaming agreement with the Province of Saskatchewan, thereby stabilizing the gaming industry. As LBBFN Chief, Perry led his community out of third-party management within eight months. He facilitated their re-qualification for CMHC housing after a 13-year period of no new housing. He also helped reinvigorate their development corporation, which is now showing a profit.
His community service has included serving on the Board of Directors of the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN), the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA), Rancho Ehrlo, the Globe Theatre, and both the Regina and National Chapters of the YMCA, as well as both the Indian Government and Lands and Resources Commissions for the FSIN. Perry continues to be a leader in building consensus in resolving issues that benefit First Nations and inspire unity across the country. It is his vow to stay true to the teachings of the Elders. Their guidance has made him a man of foresight and a leader for generations.