The head of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations says Elijah Harper changed the face of Canadian politics.
Harper, best remembered as the Manitoba MLA who cast the vote against the Meech Lake Accord thereby stopping the controversial constitutional agreement in 1990, passed away earlier today.
FSIN Chief Perry Bellegarde says there was a lot of pressure on Harper to vote in favour of Meech but he stood up for all First Nations people by voting against the accord.
“You can just imagine all that adversity and all that pressure to cave in and say yes because they needed unanimity in the legislature before they could vote on the Meech Lake Accord,” he says. “To have him pull that eagle feather and vote no, was a very powerful moment for us because First Nations people were excluded.”
The Meech Lake Accord sought to bring Quebec into the Canadian Constitution by recognizing the province as a distinct society.
Various First Nations groups were against the accord for its failure to recognize Indigenous people.
Harper, who suffered from diabetes, was 64.