Perry Bellegarde, former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), is dedicated to advancing the rights and well-being of First Nations across Canada and Indigenous peoples globally. With 35 years' experience holding various First Nations leadership roles, he is well positioned to help clients understand various interests and essential points of view when framing important conversations or negotiating with Indigenous peoples.
Perry’s strategic diplomacy and ability to bring together Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples has inspired action to advance the human rights of Indigenous peoples. Elected as National Chief of the AFN in December 2014, and re-elected in 2018, he successfully completed his second term in July 2021. During his tenure, Chief Bellegarde influenced the ending of a 20-year-long federal cap on First Nations funding. His efforts resulted in investments of more than $45 billion over six federal budgets, including to on-reserve education and child welfare.
As a leader and consensus builder, Perry raised the international profile of First Nations expertise on sustainable development, promoting rights-based solutions to the climate crisis. His collaborative approach resulted in the passage of several notable bills including the legislation recognizing and protecting Indigenous languages, changes to Indigenous governments' jurisdiction of child and family services, and the passage of Bill C-15: An Act respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In addition, Perry helped define a federal directive requiring Justice Canada to adopt an approach to litigation respecting First Nations rights and as a member of the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Advisory Council, he influenced acknowledgement of Indigenous rights in the final Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA).
Perry is a member of Little Black Bear First Nation located east of Fort Qu'Appelle, SK, where he served as elected Councillor from 2007 to 2010 and later as elected Chief from 2010 to 2012. He describes himself as an oskâpêwis or helper, working to meet the needs and priorities of First Nations families and communities. His efforts are recognized in numerous accolades, including the Confederation Medal, the Saskatchewan Centennial Medal, and, on three separate occasions, the Queen’s Jubilee Medal.
Perry has served on the First Nations Bank of Canada Board of Directors since 2022 and hosts the Ahkameyimok Podcast, which consistently rates highly in Apple’s Canada-Government category.