The newly elected chief of the Assembly of First Nations plans to unite the organization, negotiate with the federal government and push hard to get resource revenue sharing deals for Canada’s Indigenous people.

Perry Bellegarde outlined his plans during a year-end interview with MBC News.

The new AFN chief certainly has his work cut out for him but says he is up to the challenge.

There are a number of big issues to deal with.

Among these issues are rewriting the Indian Act, implementing a new education act, dealing with the federal financial transparency legislation and pressing the case for resource revenue sharing agreements.

Bellegarde says Canada’s Indigenous population is not sharing in the country’s wealth.

A quality of life survey done by the United Nations puts Canada in sixth spot while the Indigenous community is in sixty-third spot.

He says this has to change.

“There is a huge socio-economic gap that exists and there is a huge cost to that gap so that is why we need to embrace new concepts like resource revenue sharing,” he says.

However, the Saskatchewan government has been firm so far that there will be no resource revenue sharing agreement with First Nations.

In a statement from the resource minister’s office, the government states, “Revenues from Saskatchewan’s resources belongs to all Saskatchewan people and everyone, including First Nations, benefit from that revenue.”

Bellegarde takes over from Shawn Atleo who resigned last May because of a split within the AFN.

Many viewed him as being too cozy with the federal government.

Bellegarde plans to keep an open dialogue with the federal government and says he can get more done that way.

“As difficult as it will be, we have to work with and bring the government to the table. Whether it be a Conservative government, a Liberal government, an NDP government – we have got to bring the government to the table to establish processes that will respect and implement Aboriginal rights and title that will respect and implement treaties.”

Bellegarde will be moving to Ottawa to assume his new role as AFN chief.