Grand Chief Brian Hardlotte urged Indigenous leaders to work together on homelessness, housing, infrastructure, and community safety projects after being elected to a third term as head of the Prince Albert Grand Council on Tuesday.
Hardlotte defeated Sturgeon Lake First Nation Chief Greg Ermine 168-100 in a vote held on day two of the PAGC annual assembly in Prince Albert. In a speech following the vote, Hardlotte said he was overwhelmed by the support, and encouraged the chiefs, councillors, and delegates in attendance to support other Indigenous leaders and communities.
“As individual fingers, we can easily be broken, but together, as a collective, we make a mighty fist,” Hardlotte told those in attendance. “Together, we make a mighty fist. Those are the words of a mighty warrior, Sitting Bull, and that’s so true.”
Hardlotte said his priorities include reducing homelessness, rebuilding the Senator Allen Bird Memorial Centre, and working together with interim Police Chief Patrick Nogier and Deputy Chief Farica Prince to improve the Prince Albert Police Service.
Hardlotte told delegates he believes Nogier’s heart is “in a good place.” He also hinted that “something big” was coming up with regards to two Prince Albert police officers who were suspended, but said he won’t commit to any path forward without support.
“I won’t do anything unless I consult with the chiefs,” he said. “I won’t move ahead on anything they recommend unless they consult with the chiefs.”
On infrastructure, Hardlotte said he wants to see a replacement for the Senator Allen Bird Memorial Centre completed. The centre burned to the ground the morning of April 15, 2022. A 24-year-old woman later pled guilty to one count of arson.
Hardlotte also wants to see more action on homelessness, but acknowledged it’s not just a Prince Albert issue.
In 2021, the PAGC opened the doors on Moose Lodge, a warm-up shelter and soup kitchen in Prince Albert. However, the doors closed this summer due to funding issues. The PAGC had been supporting the lodge without stable funding for six months prior to the closure.
Following the closure, the Hardlotte said the PAGC would look for permanent solutions to homelessness in Prince Albert. On Tuesday, he again emphasized that eliminating homelessness would be a priority.
“Let’s come together,” he said. “I know this is a big urban centre. Vulnerable people come from all areas, not just the Prince Albert Grand Council (communities), but the Prince Albert Grand Council cares about those people, so we will work on that. We will commit.”
Hardlotte also took the time during his speech to thank chiefs, delegates, and First Nations fighting to rescind the National Resource Transfer Act. Hardlotte made headlines earlier this year when he asked then federal Justice Minister David Lametti to rescind the act during the annual Assembly of First Nations (AFN) conference.
During his speech, Hardlotte also thanked First Nations leaders who were pushing back against the provincial Saskatchewan First Act.
Looking outside of Prince Albert, Hardlotte vowed to help Wahpeton Dakota Nation build a new education centre, support and lobby for improvements to northern highways, and oppose mining developments if they threated caribou herds in northern Saskatchewan.
Hardlotte was first elected as PAGC Grand Chief in 2017. He previously served two three-year terms as vice-chief.