The man who finished second in the last election to lead the Assembly of First Nations is running again.
Former Muskowekwan First Nation Chief Reginald Bellerose made the announcement Tuesday morning at the Whitecap Dakota Nation near Saskatoon.
"It's not an easy job, but it's a job that must be done," Bellerose said.
If elected as grand chief of the AFN, Bellerose says a national gaming strategy would be a high priority.
Saskatchewan First Nations have long had a comprehensive revenue sharing and ownership agreement with the provincial government.
Other provinces, such as British Columbia, have limited partnerships, but Bellerose said this could be one of the ways to bring sustainable economic growth to the assembly's 600-plus member nations.
For the past eight years, Bellerose has served as chair of the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority, which he says has worked hard to bring hundreds of millions of dollars back to First Nations for sports, culture and other development.
Bellerose says a national gaming strategy to secure wealth for future generations will be one of his priorities if elected. (Jason Warick/CBC)
He said if elected, he'd also work hard to unite those nations following a tumultuous past few years. In the last election, in 2021, only 180 member nations voted, he said.
"The AFN has faced a fracture. But despite these issues, we can again work together," he said.
The assembly is holding a vote for a new chief after the dramatic ouster of former national chief RoseAnne Archibald, who was voted out after colleagues accused her of creating a toxic work environment — an allegation she continues to deny.
Bellerose said if elected, he'd also implement all of the recommendations made by an internal AFN committee to make the workplace safer for female employees.
Economic development, landfill searches and deaths in custody were among other priorities mentioned in Bellerose's remarks.
He will face competition for the position.
Fellow Saskatchewan candidate and Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Vice-Chief David Pratt was the first to announce his candidacy in August.
Last week, former Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak grand chief Sheila North said she also plans to run. Assembly of First Nations Manitoba Regional Chief Cindy Woodhouse announced her candidacy earlier this month.
The deadline for nominations in the contest is Nov. 1, and the vote is set to take place Dec. 6 during a special assembly in Ottawa.