Brian Hardlotte walked toward his mentor on Tuesday afternoon, just minutes after winning a resounding victory to become the Prince Albert Grand Council’s grand chief.
The two men embraced, and exchanged a few words.
“Ron said to me, ‘well grand chief, it’s time to pass on,’” Hardlotte recounted. “You’re the grand chief now. I know you’re going to do the good work.”
Ron Michel, the council’s four-term leader, recalls saying something else.
“I knew it.”
Hardlotte racked up a huge majority in Tuesday’s PAGC election. He earned 161 votes, 112 more than his closest competitor, to end the vote on the first ballot.
He stepped to the podium to thank those who supported him. His father was in the audience, as were all the assembled chiefs from the PAGC’s twelve member nations.
“I’m very happy,” he said. “At the same time, I know that it’s going to be a lot of work.”
He called for unity. His two competitors – Shoal Lake’s Charles Whitecap and Montreal Lake’s Elmer Ballantyne – are like “brothers.” But his warmest words were for Michel.
“You will always be the grand chief of the Prince Albert Grand Council,” he said. “You are a good mentor and I know you will continue that work.”
Then he spoke about the battles that lay ahead. The day before, the council’s General Assembly passed a resolution calling for an investigation into this summer’s wildfires. Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation Chief Peter Beatty said a provincial “let it burn” policy let the fires get out of control. The province denies that any such policy exists.
But Hardlotte insists that it does…
For more on this story, see the October 25 print or e-edition of the Prince Albert Grand Council.