Perry Bellegarde has been elected as the new chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations.

Bellegarde received 488 votes in today’s voting at the FSIN fall legislative assembly in Saskatoon.

Delbert Wapass was the runner-up with 240 votes, while Morley Watson finished in third with 182.

Watson has been the federation’s interim chief ever since the resignation of former chief Guy Lonechild last year.

For Bellegarde, his election marks a return to the post he held with the FSIN from 1998 to 2003.

Bellegarde says he is determined to rebuild the FSIN into an effective and well-respected organization:

“This organization is the best, most-organized in Canada.  And we’re going to build it back up to where it was again — so that there is that respect, that relevancy.”

Meanwhile, Kimberly Jonathan was elected the FSIN’s First Vice Chief — making her the first woman to sit on the organization’s executive since the mid-1970s when Kathy Merasty of Cumberland House was the vice-president of what was known then as the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians (FSI).

Jonathan says she knows she can do the job:

“And what I promise you is that I will give you the best of me.  I will give you the best for the Saskatchewan First Nations at those tables.  You’ve seen the courage.  I’m not afraid.  I will give that of me.”

Jonathan, who is from the Wahpeton Dakota First Nation, defeated rival Sheldon Wuttunee by a vote count of 457 to 448.