AFN Chief Perry Bellegarde: First Nations Won’t Be ‘Pushed To The Side’ In Federal Election

He’s calling on members to influence “all party platforms” before the October vote.

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde speaks during the AFN annual general assembly...
Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde speaks during the AFN annual general assembly in Vancouver on July 26, 2018. DARRYL DYCK/CP

FREDERICTON — The national chief of the Assembly of First Nations is calling on members to lobby all parties in an effort to influence political platforms ahead of the federal election in October.

“With the federal election coming, I want to say now the importance of voting and the importance of influencing all party platforms,” Perry Bellegarde said Tuesday as he addressed the AFN’s annual general assembly in Fredericton.

He said the national group was able to influence parties’ policy in 2015 with its Closing the Gap document spelling out priorities.

If you want to become prime minister or member of Parliament, you better listen to our people and our concerns.AFN Chief Perry Bellegarde

“We set up meetings with the people designing the party platforms. That’s the same process we’re going to do again for October,” Bellegarde said.

He said 61.5 per cent of eligible First Nations voters cast their ballots in 2015, and he wants that number to increase during the upcoming election.

“If you want to become prime minister or member of Parliament, you better listen to our people and our concerns, because we vote now and have impact,” he said. “That’s what’s going to happen in October. We’re not going to be pushed to the side anymore.”

Bellegarde said the group’s top priority is climate change.  MORE




We invite you to be part of a project that will take place over the summer and fall of 2019, involving as many people in Ontario as possible, in ‘kitchen table climate conversations’. 

Our inaugural Kitchen Table Climate Conversation (KTCC) training day was held on June 22nd in Toronto. More than 70 participants from across Southern Ontario were trained in facilitation and communications skills for discussing the climate emergency, as well as tips for handling eco-anxiety.  These skills, coupled with key science visuals and information on health risks associated with the climate crisis, have readied us to hold conversations and face the climate challenge head on.

We desperately need to increase the understanding of the climate emergency across our province, but also the positive future that is possible as we work together. We suggest that an ideal “conversation” communicates the crisis clearly, but leaves the bulk of the time to discuss potential actions and solutions. Kitchen Table Climate Conversations are a means to inform our friends, neighbours and co-workers, and to galvanize them to take on personal and political change to turn this emergency around. Join us! 

Research shows that change takes place in group discussions, especially those with a trusted communicator.  We encourage you to set up these “conversations” for small groups of friends, relatives, and neighbours to share hopes and concerns, and consider steps forward to meet the climate challenge.

The KTCC toolkit, including a “Timed Agenda for Facilitators,” is posted HERE for you to use if you’d like, and will be regularly updated.  We hope to track these conversations with the goal of at least 1000 climate conversations this summer and fall.  We can only make this happen if at least 100 people participate as hosts, resource people and/or facilitators.  You are needed!

We encourage everyone in Ontario to be part of this initiative.  If you want to have your conversations included in a province wide map please, sign up onthis form.  We will soon have a map online to post where the conversations are happening.  Whether you want to be mapped or not, we are here to support you in whatever way we can, and ask that you contact us for tips, moral support, or anything else you may need for your KTCC.

The climate crisis is an emergency that needs immediate action.  With the appropriate policies and supports at the government level, we can achieve this.  But, it will take the wider community – not just a small group of engaged citizens – to get there.

Let us know if you would like to be involved.  We are considering additional training with experienced climate activists and facilitators, so let us know if that interests you.  Or use the materials provided on this website and keep in touch.  We welcome your feedback.  We are also here with support for your questions, outreach, or any challenges you anticipate or encounter. Let us know how your conversations went by sending us a quick email at or filling out this input form.

Lyn Adamson,

Time for us to take a leap

Dear Editor,

As a fellow traveller on this planet called Earth, what are your concerns?

Do you worry about climate change, jobs, pollution, affordable health care and education, dignity and equality for all people (all races, genders and abilities), justice for Indigenous people, ongoing rapid extinction of many species, and resource depletion? Do these concerns seem insurmountable? What can be done?

I attended a rally in Toronto on June 20 where these issues and many more were discussed. The gathering was under the auspices of a grassroots organization called A Green New Deal For All. Among the presenters were well-known environmentalists David Suzuki, Naomi Klein, and Pam Palmater. Best known to me was Suzuki, who at age 83 is still actively fighting to save our beloved planet. His passionate speech explained how, by making the right choices, we could make changes that would benefit us all.

Presently our governments are not true democracies. Big money and rich corporations too often call the shots. Added to this injustice, the rich do not pay their fair share of taxes. If they did, so many of our society’s and the Earth’s needs could be looked after.

Many programs could be financed to the benefit of us all and cuts to education and health care would be eliminated. Funds for developing clean energy would become available, creating many jobs and eliminating the need for fossil fuels.

Learn more about A Green New Deal at

Arm yourself with knowledge when preparing to vote in the fall elections. Choose strong candidates that stand up for green policies that will benefit us all, not those who support greedy corporations that have profits as their bottom line.

Lynn Tomlinson

Advice to PEC NYMBY’S: Look Before You Leap

In the heat of the moment, it’s best to look before you leap

For nearly two decades, a group of County residents have been supporting wind energy initiatives. The County Sustainability Group’s film Up in the Air is a short film about the wind turbine project in Prince Edward County. It features several County residents who describe the benefits of the project to address climate change.

Now Steve St.Clair has produced a film, White Pines in Prince Edward County, that lets the  much maligned ‘industrial wind machines’ speak for themselves.

Please take a moment to watch the film  (2:47) and then see if you can answer some of the questions below.

  • Are these elegant turbines symbols of hope or are they best characterized by anti-wind opponents as ugly industial wind machines?
  • Where are all the houses that are supposed to be negatively impacted?
  • Where are the flocks of birds that are supposed to be chopped up by these spinning monsters?
  • How many anti-wind supporters actually visited this remote site?

The fossil fuel industry has its fingerprints all over this ‘spontaneous’ outspringing of anti-wind opposition that foisted on naive citizens’  groups a boatload of misinformation about wind development, none of it backed by credible science or years of lived experience in Europe.

For example, read carefully this mission statement by Wind Concerns Ontario:

Wind Concerns Ontario is a province-wide advocacy organization whose mission is to provide information on the potential impact of industrial-scale wind power generation on the economy, human health, and the natural environment.

Ask yourself, how on earth could clean renewable energy — energy cheaper than oil,  gas, coal, or nuclear — negatively impact the economy, or human health?

How could the the world’s fastest growing renewable energy solution be somehow bad for Prince Edward County?

Then, ask yourself, who benefited  from this deliberate campaign of misinformation that resulted in shutting down this industry in Ontario?

Big Oil and Gas in Western Canada.

Big Oil’s investments in the tar sands ecocide truly threaten, to quote Wind Concerns Ontario,  “our economy, human health, and the natural environment.” Big Oil and Gas  are determined to persue and expand the tar sands ecocide which will make it impossible for  Canada to be a climate leader.

Nimbys should look before they leap. We need to leave carbon in the ground and get our energy from the air and sun.