Grand Chief Stan Beardy has thrown his hat into the ring for the Ontario regional chief position, becoming the only challenger so far to incumbent Angus Toulouse.
Beardy made the announcement on May 13, noting he had been thinking about it for some time after serving four terms as Nishnawbe Aski Nation grand chief.
“I’ve been very lucky, very blessed to have that kind of support from my chiefs,” Beardy said. “I just feel that it’s time to look for new opportunities.”
Beardy said his 12 years as grand chief and more than 10 years as chief of Muskrat Dam First Nation gives him ample experience for the Ontario regional chief position.
If elected, Beardy said his main priority would be ensuring economic participation for First Nations in Ontario. He said when he reviewed the provincial and federal budgets this year, there was “very little” for First Nations people.
“That tells me we have to have a different vision, different approach to maintain sustainability for my people in terms of our needs,” Beardy said.
By being closer to Toronto and Ottawa should he be elected, Beardy said he wants to raise the profile of First Nations people at the provincial and federal level.
In a media release, Beardy noted his past achievements as grand chief, which included partnering with the lieutenant-governor of Ontario to establish First Nation literacy programs; initiating Project Beyshick; creating the NAN youth, Elders and women’s councils; enhancing the Junior Rangers program; and reaching out to the Ontario, Canadian and international communities.
Beardy said he will continue on as grand chief at least until the Chiefs of Ontario election, which is expected to take place on the first day of the three-day All Ontario Chiefs
Conference June 26-28. The Ontario regional chief is elected through the traditional method of each community chief standing behind the candidate they support.
The announcement came just as Beardy was about to head off to the NAN chiefs meeting in Cochrane, Ont., where Beardy said he would receive clarity in his role as grand chief before the election.
Beardy would not comment on his plans should he not be elected, saying he is focusing on his campaign.
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