Assembly of First Nations 39th Annual General Assembly All Candidates Forum- Miles Richardson's Speech

AFN All Candidates speeches were broadcast live via CBC Indigenous, Miles Richardson's speech was as follows, check for delivery:


Elders, Chiefs, Delegates, Thank you for being here. Haida Laas. My name is Miles Richardson, Kilslaay Kaajii Sding of the Eagle Clan of Joth of the Haida Nation. We’re here today in the territory of the Coast Salish Peoples, including Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations.

We are the change. We are the leaders of nations equal to any nation in this world. We the living generation of ancient and proud Peoples. Our forebears have thrived in our territories for hundreds of generations. And it’s our responsibility to ensure our Peoples continue to thrive in our territories for hundreds of generations more. We are the change.

We must be confident in our sovereignty and remember that sovereignty isn’t something that someone else gives you; it isn’t something you put on the negotiating table. Sovereignty is something that burns in your heart. It is who we are.

We are the change. There is no one but us that our Peoples can count on to make the change we need and for which we have been fighting for generations. Our Peoples have no one but us to look to, to fight for safe drinking water in our communities; bring an end to this epidemic of violence toward our women and girls; fight to keep our languages, cultures and traditional knowledge alive; and ensure our nations are getting our fair share of wealth from our territories and achieving economic self-sufficiency.

We are at a crossroads. Do we continue with the status quo, down the path of trying to fix and improve the colonial Indian Act system, which has always been stacked against our Peoples? OR, do we choose a new path? To me the choice is clear: we must commit ourselves fully to a new direction – one of rebuilding our nationhood and building proper Nation-to-Nation relationships, amongst our own nations first and foremost and, together on that unshakeable foundation, with Canada, to bring more than 150 years of a colonial relationship to an end and chart our future on the foundation we choose as equal partners.

I have been asked many times what a Nation-to-Nation relationship really means, and how we create it. It starts in here (your heart). It comes from knowing and taking pride in who we are as Peoples and nations. It comes from standing together to increase our power and strength in unity and collaboration. And it comes from our sacred interconnectedness with our lands and waters, the rocks, trees, birds, fish and all of the abundance we have been gifted by the Creator.

We have lived through impossibly dark times when those sacred connections, our languages and ceremonies, and our very existence were under relentless attack. Our ancestors fought to protect our homelands, our ceremonies, our traditional knowledge, and our languages. The generations here in this room have been battle-tested on many fronts - from the courts to the constitutional tables, from the mine sites, forests and pipeline routes to the prisons of residential schools and forced relocations of entire communities.

But I know in my gut, my head and my heart like never before that the enormous weight of this dark history is rising from our shoulders, our young people are growing in passion and energy, our art and our music are flourishing and our ceremonies are once again being celebrated.

We have had many victories in the courts that have, for the benefit of all of our Peoples, built a solid legal foundation of recognition of our treaties and inherent rights and titles.

It is thanks to the Chiefs, Elders and knowledge keepers, through enormous hard work, expense, gathering of evidence and building of cases, that judges and the courts have developed unprecedented recognition of who we are, our relationship with our lands and waters and how important our contributions have been to the history and fabric of this country. When one thinks about the enormity of the impact of the now dozens of favourable decisions, it is a staggering collective accomplishment, giving our nations unprecedented leverage in decisions affecting our territories and Peoples.

We must honour and make the most of the courage and strength residential school survivors showed as they gave testimony and relived painful memories before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. These dark truths are forever part of the history of this country. Canadians must acknowledge this truth if we are to move forward together. We must be unrelenting in ensuring implementation of the TRC’s Calls to Action and in building on the public support generated through hearing the stories of survivors.

And we must recognize the essential and most difficult work the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry is doing to shed light on why our women and girls are and have been at such disproportionately great risk of violence. These forums are never easy or perfect in their execution, but they are incredibly important and worth our patience and support if we are going to bring an end to this violence against our women and girls.

The National Chief or any of our Chiefs or Nations cannot make the change we need on their own. It is through all of us working together and being who we know are that we can do this. Together, we are the change.

I am deeply honoured to have the support of our esteemed former National Chiefs Georges Erasmus, Ovide Mercredi and Matthew Coon Come for my campaign to become your next National Chief. We all share the knowledge that our greatest strength lies in our coming together and combining our collective voices and power, and in building up our next generations of leaders, innovators and creators. As we pass down the knowledge we have received from our Elders to the up-and-coming generations, this will ensure our Peoples will have the leadership and capacity we need to adapt, innovate and thrive as nations in our modern technological age. We need to listen to and hear our youth, help build them up, deepen their connectedness to our lands and cultures, and invite them to join our tables.

I was with over 100 Indigenous land and marine Guardians in Ottawa recently, brainstorming ideas and plans for building a National Indigenous Guardians Network. We had fun, worked hard and I was truly inspired by the thoughtful ideas and directions offered by this group of mostly young people. The stewardship of our lands will be in very capable hands indeed as the Indigenous Guardian movement gains momentum among our Nations from coast-to-coast-to-coast.

I am running to be your next National Chief, to help lead our nations to rebuild our nationhood and reset the relationship between our Peoples and Canada on a proper Nation-to-Nation foundation. I am running to be your next National Chief because I believe in us, standing together. This is our time. We are second to no one in our knowledge of our territories, creative capacities, and commitment to the wellbeing and success of our current and future generations. Together, we are the change.

My whole life experience, as a citizen of my nation, the Haida Nation, and as a leader for my nation, in my region and in BC, has led me to this point. As former President of the Council of the Haida Nation, guided by the wisdom of my Elders, I helped my people rebuild our nationhood, bring our ancient laws forward into a modern written Haida Nation Constitution and land and marine use planning legislation to guide human activities in our territory, stand up to peacefully enforce our nation’s laws to stop unauthorized logging of our homelands, and successfully renegotiate the Haida Nation’s relationship with Canada and BC. I know in my core that the basis of any proper Nation-to-Nation relationship rests in the sovereignty of each of our nations. My leadership and negotiation experience for my nation, in the northwest Pacific coast region and in BC shows that I am an effective voice for our Peoples who can bring our nations from coast-to-coast-to-coast together to rebuild, prosper, and transform our relationships with Canada for generations to come. We are the change.

I am keenly aware of what the role of the AFN is and what it isn’t. We all agree the AFN is an advocacy organization and not a government. Unfortunately, that is not how Crown governments see the AFN. For their ease, they prefer to try to consult with the AFN rather than our nations directly. We must absolutely resist allowing ourselves or the AFN to engage in a reactive relationship with Ottawa, letting them drive our agenda.As National Chief, I will not be led by Ottawa or its agenda, and the AFN will not be reactive or let Ottawa take the lead in defining our Peoples’ issues.

I know many of you in this room and have appreciated getting to know so many more of you through this campaign. Those of you that know me know that I absolutely will not be led by Ottawa or its priorities and have proven effective in leading on my nation’s priorities and agenda. Like I fought for my nation, the Haida Nation, as the next National Chief of the AFN I will fight for all of you and your nations. We must now set our own agenda for the future we want for our nations, territories, and Peoples, and for our relationships with Canada. This agenda must be driven by the nations of this Assembly, not the Ministers in Ottawa. Together, WE are the change.

We have before us an unprecedented moment of opportunity and inside us a deep burning desire to make lasting and meaningful change in the relationship between our nations and Canada - change that is the foundation for ensuring the survival and thriving of our Peoples for hundreds more generations to come. My platform for achieving this is centred on three core actions to establishing proper Nation-to-Nation relationships between First Nations and Canada:

  1. Recognition and affirmation in legislation of our inherent Aboriginal and treaty rights.
  2. Closing the social gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples.
  3. Ensuring First Nations reap a fair share of economic activity in their territories and achieve economic self-sufficiency.

We, as nations from across this land, are the change. The Dene are the change. The Mi’kmaq are the change. The Haudenosaunee are the change. The Nisga’a are the change. Every one of us in this room – WE are the Change.

Thank you for giving me your attention this afternoon and for all of the support over the last several weeks. You know I will fight for you and that I will hold Canada’s feet to the fire, to be honourable to our Peoples. I’ll fight for you and your nations like I’ve fought for my nation. I went the wall for my people and if I become your next National Chief I will go to the wall for all of you.

My name is Miles Richardson. I am Kilslaay Kaajii Sding of the Eagle Clan of Joth. I am asking for your vote. I am asking you to join me. Because together, we are the change.





Miles Richardson endorsed by second former Assembly of First Nations leader in quest to become national chief

by Charlie Smith for STRAIGHT TALK

July 22nd, 2018

The former president of the Haida Nation, Miles Richardson, is also a founding director of the David Suzuki Foundation.
The former president of the Haida Nation, Miles Richardson, is also a founding director of the David Suzuki Foundation.
The only B.C. candidate in the election for national chief of the Assembly of First Nations is showing momentum heading toward the vote in Vancouver on Wednesday (July 25).

Miles Richardson, a former president of the Haida Nation, was endorsed today by former national chief Ovide Mercredi.

“I know Miles as a good friend and strong advocate for our peoples to return to nationhood," Mercredi said in a news release. "I support him fully knowing that his leadership will be inclusive and respectful of our diversity, aspirations and sovereignty."

Mercredi served two terms as national chief and led negotiations leading up to the Charlottetown constitutional accord, which was defeated in a national referendum.

He also tried to negotiate an end to the Gustafsen Lake standoff in B.C. in 1995.

Richardson has been on the board of the David Suzuki Foundation since it was created in 1992. He's also a former chief commissioner of the B.C. Treaty Commission.

“It has become increasingly clear to me, from First Nations I have been speaking to across the country, that we are at a crossroads and must decide whether we should try to fix the colonial Indian Act system or chart a new path, rebuilding our nations and building a proper Nation-to-Nation relationship with Canada," Richardson said in a news release. "My vision is for the latter, and to have the support of Ovide Mercredi for my campaign and platform buoys my confidence that together, shoulder to shoulder as Indigenous peoples, we can do this."

Mercredi is from Manitoba, but chose not to endorse the two Manitoba candidates for national chief. They are Keewatinowl Okimakanak former grand chief and former broadcaster Sheila North, and Wipazoka Wakpa Dakota Nation community leader Katherine Whitecloud.

The incumbent national chief, Perry Bellegarde, is seeking reelection. The only other candidate is Kahnawake Mohawk policy analyst Russell Diabo.

Last week, Richardson was endorsed by another former national chief, Matthew Coon Come, a former grand chief of the Grand Council of the Crees in Quebec.

And this weekend, he received a public message of support from Ashley Callingbull, who was named Mrs. Universe in 2015.

To view Miles' Instragam click here 

B.C.'s best known Indigenous leader, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, has not yet publicly disclosed whom he'll be supporting in the election.

But he did tell the Globe and Mail in April that he's been impressed by North's grassroots, bottom-up approach.

“I find her to be a very serious, deeply committed and dedicated leader and quite frankly it’s time we had a woman leading the Assembly of First Nations,” Phillip told the Globe. “It’s time.”

To Read the Full Stroy Click Here




Miles Richardson endorsed by second former Assembly of First Nations leader in quest to become national chief

Loggers confront Haida blockade
Digital Archives

November 2, 1985

Tensions peak in a 12-year battle over trees on the Queen Charlotte Islands.


Miles Richardson endorsed by former national chief Matthew Coon Come in Assembly of First Nations election

Miles Richardson participated in the Walk for Reconciliation in Vancouver in 2013.

On Wednesday (July 25), the national media will converge on Vancouver for the election of the head of the Assembly of First Nations.And today, the only B.C. candidate in the race, former Haida Nation president Miles Richardson, won an endorsement from former national chief Mathew Coon Come.

“I am happy to pay tribute to Miles Richardson and his character," Coon Come said in a news release. "He has transformed the way First Nations view themselves and their place within Canada. He provides key insights into political activism strategies and how to manage the media."

Coon Come is a former grand chief of the Grand Council of the Crees in Quebec.

Richardson is well-known to British Columbians as a former chief commissioner of the B.C. Treaty Commission.

In addition, Richardson is a close friend of environmentalist David Suzuki, and has been on the David Suzuki Foundation board since it was created in 1992.

In the campaign to become national chief, Richardson has been saying that the role of the Assembly of First Nations is "to support each First Nation in establishing proper nation-to-nation relationship" with the Canadian government.

That entails working with each First Nation "to create space for them to establish their own nationhood", including exercising laws and jurisdiction over their people's well-being.

Richardson has also made the case for the Assembly of First Nations to work to establish strong, sustainable economies to ensure Indigenous nations' self-sufficiency.

And he insists it's not the organization's role to speak and negotiation for First Nations, which are sovereign in their territories and should speak for themselves.


To read the full article from Straight Talk click here



AFN National Chiefs candidates’ forum broadcast live via APTN News #AFN2018

Miles Richardson on why he’s running to be the next National Chief filmed just before the Union of BC Indian Chiefs All Candidates Forum #AFN2018

Miles Richardson, O.C., former Haida President & BC Treaty Chief Commissioner, launches campaign for National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations

JUNE 26, 2018

Miles Richardson, O.C., former Haida President & BC Treaty Chief Commissioner, launches campaign for National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations

VANCOUVER - Miles Richardson, former President of the Council of the Haida Nation and Chief Commissioner of the British Columbia Treaty Commission, launched his campaign for National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) today.

He is running on a platform to help transform the relationship between First Nations and Canada, from colonial oppression to a proper Nation-to-Nation relationship; to see recognition of Indigenous nationhood affirmed and supported by the federal government; to close persistent socio-economic gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people; and to support First Nations in building strong, sustainable economies as a basis of their nations’ self-sufficiency.

Unveiling his platform, Richardson said: “We are at a crossroads. We can choose to try to fix the colonial Indian Act system or we can choose a new path: stand up as Indigenous Peoples, be who we know we are, and build a proper Nation-to-Nation relationship with Canada. Choosing to try to fix the colonial Indian Act system is a dead-end street for our people. I stand for being who know we are as nations and building a proper Nation-to-Nation relationship with Canada. Together, shoulder to shoulder, I know we can do this.”

After graduating with his Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of Victoria in 1979, Mr. Richardson served as Administrator for the Skidegate Band Council and directed the establishment of the Haida Gwaii Watchmen program. In 1984, he was the youngest person to be elected President of the Council of the Haida Nation (CHN), a position he held until 1996. During his tenure as President of the CHN, Mr. Richardson led the drafting of the Constitution of the Haida Nation; development of the first comprehensive Haida Nation land and marine use plan, enacted under Haida law; and negotiation of the Gwaii Haanas Agreement, the first Nation-to-Nation agreement between the Haida Nation and Canada, which protected the Gwaii Haanas area of his people’s homeland, Haida Gwaii.

Mr. Richardson was a member of the BC Claims Task Force that made recommendations to First Nations in BC and the Governments of Canada and BC on a made-in-BC process to conduct negotiations to build a new relationship. From 1991 through 1993, Mr. Richardson was a delegate of the First Nations Summit Task Group, an executive body representing First Nations in BC. In 1995, he was nominated by the Summit and appointed a Commissioner to the BC Treaty Commission, a position he held for two terms. In 1998, Mr. Richardson was chosen as Chief Commissioner of the BC Treaty Commission by agreement of Canada, BC, and the First Nations Summit, and continued to serve in that role until 2004. In 2007, Mr. Richardson was named an Officer of the Order of Canada.

He is a founding Director of the David Suzuki Foundation, having served on its Board of Directors since its incorporation in 1990. He was also a founding member of the Bill Reid Foundation, which works to preserve the art and perpetuate the legacies of Bill Reid and deepen appreciation of Northwest Coast Indigenous art. From 2010 to 2013, he served as Co-Chair of the Indigenous Advisory Circle for the Institute on Governance and now serves as Senior Advisor for the Indigenous Leadership Initiative, is a member of the Steering Committee for the BC Indigenous Clean Energy Initiative, and is a Director on the Board of the New Relationship Trust.

Currently, Mr. Richardson is the Director of the National Consortium on Indigenous Economic Development, an initiative of the Peter B. Gustavson School of Business and Faculty of Law at the University of Victoria, and operates his own strategic advisory firm, building on over three decades of experience providing strategic advice on relationship building, Indigenous governance, community engagement, sustainability, and business development.

Richardson’s platform, which is available on his campaign website, is centered on three core actions that are fundamental to a proper Nation-to-Nation relationship between First Nations and Canada:

1. Recognition and Affirmation of Our Inherent and Treaty Rights.

2. Closing the Gaps that have persisted between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people for generations.

3. Building Economies for Self-Sufficient Nations.

For more information, please visit

The election for the next National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations will take place at the 2018 AFN Annual General Assembly in Vancouver on July 25, 2018.

Media contact:
Serena Taylor