It’s been four years since Guy Lonechild was unceremoniously removed as chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN). But now, with the Legislative Assembly approaching, Lonechild is looking for a way back in.
The former chief is one of three candidates running for second vice-chief ahead of the FSIN Legislative Assembly later this month.
“Quite honestly, I wasn’t sure I was going to come back to First Nations politics, but I’m very happy to be here,” Lonechild said. “I have the experience and the expertise, and I know the issues that First Nations are facing.”
The FSIN suspended Lonechild in August 2011 for failing to disclose a drunk driving charge during his election campaign. After a bitter legal fight, he accepted a financial buyout and stepped down.
“It didn’t help the organization, it didn’t help me, it didn’t help them,” he said. “All we saw was a lot of non-First Nations people in the province saying ‘we told you so; we told you so that First Nations couldn’t work together.’ This is an opportunity for healing.”
The FSIN has lost much of its federal funding in recent years, leading to staffing cuts and lengthy disagreements on where to recover the money.
When asked why he was running for second vice chief and not chief, Lonechild said the shorter two-year term was a factor. It would give him time, he said, to
make up his mind about returning to First Nations politics.
Lonechild is running on issues of housing and employment opportunities, as well as unity within the FSIN. He suggested that First Nations be given the opportunity to acquire multi-year leases for on-reserve homes.
The ballot for second vice-chief also includes Rod Atcheynum of the Sweetgrass First Nation, and Bob Merasty of the Flying Dust First Nation.
The Legislative Assembly is scheduled for Oct. 28 and 29 at TCU Place in Saskatoon.