THUNDER BAY – His way is quiet, but solid steady and forward. Once again, Stan Beardy has likely surprised many with his election to the position of Ontario Chief for the Assembly of First Nations. Likely many people thought that the (now) former Grand Chief at the Nishnawbe-Aski Nation (NAN) would have a tough time being selected as the Ontario Chief. Likely many of those were also the people who thought that Stan Beardy would not win a fourth term as Grand Chief of NAN.
However, Chief Beardy has steel behind his sometimes quiet ways. However his goal is bringing a louder voice from the North to Queen’s Park and Ottawa. In seeking to run for Ontario Chief, Beardy stated that “As a leader, I have been shaped by the direction of the Chiefs, the advice of the Elders, conversations with women and youth in our communities; and by the wisdom of leaders of First nations and indigenous people, in Ontario, across Canada and as far away as New Zealand”.
“As Regional Chief, I will fight for each First Nation and for all First Nations while respecting their autonomy and assisting them to build the protocols that will make their joint streghth greater”.
Chief Beardy was born and raised on a trap line at Bearskin Lake First Nation. He attended high school and college in Thunder Bay where he also worked as a welder-fitter for several years. In order to return to a traditional lifestyle of living off the land, Beardy moved to Muskrat Dam First Nation where he was elected and served as Chief for 10 years.
Throughout his career, he has held a variety of leadership positions with several organizations, including Sioux Lookout Chiefs Committee on Health, Northern Nishnawbe Education Council, National Aboriginal Economic Development Board and the Northern Ontario Native Tourism Association. In his role as Grand Chief of Nishnawbe Aski Nation, Beardy is a member of the Political Confederacy – a political table of Grand Chiefs in Ontario. In this role, Grand Chief Beardy holds the health portfolio for all First Nations in Ontario.
In 2009 Grand Chief Beardy partnered with the Trillium Gift of Life Network to promote the lifesaving benefits of organ and tissue donation in memory of his late son Daniel. In partnership with Trillium Gift of Life, he and his wife Nellie spearheaded an awareness campaign focused on reaching Ojibway, Cree and OjiCree speaking people in Ontario.
To sit with Stan Beardy, it to realize that there is a depth of caring for his people, as well as a great depth of knowledge on the important issues facing First Nations peoples not only in Northwestern Ontario, but across Canada and beyond.
As newly elected Ontario Regional Chief, Stan Beardy has given up the role as Nishnawbe-Aski Grand Chief. That leaves some ‘large shoes’ to fill for the incoming NAN Grand Chief who will be elected in August in Kashechewan. Nominations and information are at www.nanelection.ca.