Bobby Cameron was re-elected as chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) Thursday afternoon, winning his second term in a landslide victory.
Cameron defeated challenger Delbert Wapass by a 727-216 vote margin after campaigning on a promise to prioritize post-secondary education and child welfare.
The re-elected chief said the FSIN had a lot of work ahead of it to lobby the provincial and federal governments to make sure First Nation children were cared for, and praised the organization.
“We are the strongest First Nation organization in Canada,” he said. “The strongest, united organization.”
“We pray for those people who have contacted (the media), because the battle isn’t within,” Cameron told reporters when asked about the controversies.
“The battle is with the provincial and federal government … to be honest I haven’t really paid much attention to it.”
He is also facing a challenge from Saskatoon Tribal Council (STC) Chief Mark Arcand to overhaul the governance system at the FSIN.
Arcand held an impromptu news conference outside the FSIN general assembly Thursday to express concerns over the executive’s conduct and lack of support being offered to his members.
He added a letter had been sent to the federal government advising officials the FSIN wasn’t authorized to negotiate funding for programs and services for the STC.
Responding to Arcand’s call for more accountability, Cameron said the FSIN has always been “straightforward.”
“Sure we have disagreements within, but you go to Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario and you’re going to see different perspectives on different items,” he said.
“We just got a really strong mandate … and we’re going to continue moving forward.”
The returning chief was also asked about reports the FSIN had their files stolen by a hacker, and had paid a $20,000 ransom for their return.
Cameron said the issue was “done with,” and when asked if the ransom had indeed been paid, he responded, “it must have been, I don’t know, that’s technical stuff.”
He soon added it’s being handled by the FSIN’s legal department.
Besides Cameron, two vice-chiefs were also elected and sworn into the FSIN executive on Thursday.
Edward “Dutch” Lerat was re-elected as third vice-chief, while former executive member Morley Watson was chosen as first vice-chief.
Both stressed the need for a unified front in their acceptance speeches.
“When someone is down, you can kick them or you can help them back up,” Watson said.
“If our federation is going through a tough time, let’s stick together here. Let’s help our federation back up.”