The Laughing Drum
Special to APTN News
Hundreds of First Nations Chiefs from across the country cheered on Wednesday, some crowd-surfing, as Perry Bellegarde secured another three year term as National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations.
“It’s Perrydemonium!” screamed one Chief, who looked frighteningly similar to young fans of the Beatles, before fainting.
Bellegarde fought off four challengers, often physically, in a campaign that lasted several grueling weeks.
One by one, candidates Russ “El Diablo” Diabo, Myles “The Haida Hellhound” Richardson, Katherine “Silver Cloud” Whitecloud and front-runner Sheila “Empress of the North” North were eliminated in two fierce ballots in Vancouver’s glitzy Canada Place convention centre.
“There wasn’t a dry headdress in the house when Perry finally ascended to power once again,” said Harold Tarbell, who moderates the meetings but who has a mysterious background and often arrives at the meetings on horseback from parts unknown. “It was a hard won win.”
The election was not without controversy, however, as Bellegarde’s challengers lined up against him and accused the feds of interfering after Indigenous-Crown Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett was seen running from a meeting of Alberta Chiefs on the same day as the election.
“Umm, ahh, uh,” Bennett told reporters as she clutched a purse filled with beads and trinkets. “Um, ahh, oh.”
A spokesperson from Bennett’s office later told The Laughing Drum that the Minister was simply there to purchase a new scarf for her collection, which is estimated to contain thousands of Indigenous patterns and is valued at $1.3-million.
Over the topness and ‘moos’
While most of the candidates gracefully ceded the race, challenger Diabo was less than kind to audience and faced boos from the crown when he angrily warned that fire and brimstone would rain down upon them without his guidance.
“Are those moos I hear?” he teased the frothing crowd.
Only one Chief, from a Saskatchewan community, later told The Laughing Drum that he was indeed mooing and said he was hurt his moos were drowned out by the furious crowd.
Bellegarde, meanwhile, was accused of going over the top for using lasers and a smoke machine during his three-hour long victory speech.
Disunity, nothing like Canada at all
Canadian political observers and pundits have appeared on TV, radio and in newspapers to comment on the fact that Bellegarde won by just 63 per cent of the 528 Chiefs who voted.
“How can Bellegarde lead such a fractured organization?” many ask.
It’s almost like the AFN is nothing at all like Canadian politics, where there are several parties in parliament, many of whom are bitter enemies that regularly attack each other like racoons around an overturned garbage can.
Tim Fontaine is the host of APTN’s The Laughing Drum.