Newly elected regional Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Chief Isadore Day believes in the power of youth, and can marshal the attention of a U.S. President.
So said First Nation leaders upon Day’s election as head of the Chiefs of Ontario, which makes him the regional chief for that province’s branch of the AFN.
“I congratulate Regional Chief Day on his election to this important position representing First Nations in Ontario region,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde in a statement. “Regional Chief Day has been a strong voice for First Nations rights and traditions and I look forward to working together with him as part of the AFN national executive to advance First Nation priorities in Ontario and across the country.”
Day is now the official spokesman for the 133 First Nations of Ontario, whose chiefs-in-assembly represent the Anishinabek, Mushkegowuk, Onkwehonwe and Lenape peoples.
“With a list of diverse attributes and skills, Day has been welcomed at many tables to share in efforts to make constructive change for the Anishinabek and First Nations at the Regional and National level in recent years,” said the Anishinabek Nation in a statement. “He believes that Youth in general have vision and hold leadership keys for success that need to be tapped and brought to the table and legitimized in formal process.”
Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee had nothing but praise for both Day and his campaign.
“People here are saying, ‘What a difference a Day makes!’ ” quipped Madahbee in the nation’s congratulatory statement. “He listened to what the chiefs had to say and that was crucial to his campaign. I look forward to working with him in his new role and to get to work as soon as possible.”
Day is noted for, among other things, having addressed President Bill Clinton at the Ontario Economic Summit in 2006, asking him for input regarding First Nations, and eliciting an extensive answer.
“He has also been quite active with many other levels of leadership from the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ontario Premier and scores of MPs—all focused on one thing: The First Nation Agenda,” the Anishinabek Nation statement said. “Day is noted across the country as a visible and relevant leader.”
Day was elected with 73 votes in a traditional ceremony at the 41st Annual All Ontario Chiefs Conference today hosted by Anishinabe of Wauzhushk Onigum First Nation (Rat Portage) Treaty #3 Territory, the AFN noted. He won over two other candidates: Chief Tom Bressette, who garnered 30 votes, and Randall Phillips, with 11. Day will join the AFN’s national executive roster officially at the Annual General Assembly taking place from July 7–9 in Montreal.
The new chief succeeds Stan Beardy, who had served since 2012 as Ontario regional chief, and before that had been Grand Chief of Nishnawbe Aski Nation for 12 years.
“I want to thank former Regional Chief Stan Beardy for his work at the national level, particularly for his leadership as a national advocate for First Nations health,” said Bellegarde. “Stan was dedicated to asserting First nations rights, including our rights to health services and supports. I am honored to have worked with Stan on the AFN executive and wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”