People & Culture

Perry Bellegarde on reconnecting with language and ceremony

Episode 31

The First Nations political leader and Honorary President of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society reflects on his childhood on reserve and his role as an oskâpêwis — a Cree word meaning helper

  • Jan 25, 2022
Perry Bellegarde at an event held Nov. 4, 2021 at Canada’s Centre for Geography and Exploration in Ottawa to celebrate his appointment as Honorary President of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. (Photo: Ben Powless/Canadian Geographic)
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We’re thrilled to welcome Perry Bellegarde to the Explore Podcast. Bellegarde is the new Honorary President of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society — a ceremonial role previously held by the late Alex Trebek. You likely also know Bellegarde from his time as a transformational National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations from 2014 to 2021, where he helped push key legislation through Parliament, including the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act and the Indigenous Languages Act. He is a proud member of the Little Black Bear First Nation in Treaty 4 territory in Saskatchewan. Last year he was named Nation Builder of the Year by the Empire Club for his “record of achievement built over 35 years in First Nations leadership and advocacy for Indigenous rights, human rights, and building bridges within Canada and globally.”

In this lively and fascinating episode, Bellegarde discusses growing up in Little Black Bear, his time in First Nations politics, the importance of Indigenous languages, culture and ceremony, and his new role with the RCGS.

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