Ovide Mercredi is a Cree, born in the northern community of Grand Rapids, Manitoba in 1946. He served his community as Chief of Misipawistik Cree Nation from 2005 to 2011 and acted as a councillor for three years after his terms as Chief.
A graduate of the University of Manitoba’s Robson Hall Faculty of Law in 1977, he practiced criminal law and later specialized in constitutional law as an advisor to Manitoba Chiefs. Ovide Mercredi became a national and international leader in advocating for Indigenous peoples’ rights.
In 1989, Ovide was elected Regional Chief of the Assembly of First Nations for Manitoba as well as appointed a member of the Manitoba Human Rights Commission. He became a key strategist for the Assembly during the time of the Meech Lake Accord constitutional reform discussions. Ovide has always advocated for non-violent methods to resolve conflict and he had an active role in negotiations in Oka, Gustafson Lake, Iperrwash and Burnt Church.
On June 12, 1991, Ovide was elected National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, a role which he held for two terms from 1991 to 1997, where he represented a diverse group of people who embraced differing traditions and at times, represented conflicting interests. During his first term, he led the negotiations for the First Nations in the Charlottetown Accord. In his efforts to find consensus for policies and to foster unity, he spent much of his time traveling across Canada to meet people and to learn firsthand of their difficulties.
He became the first chancellor of Manitoba’s University College of the North in 2007. He was selected in a traditional manner to be the National Spokesperson for Treaties 1 to 11 which he led from 2006 to 2014. For his work as an advocate of non-violent methods for change, he has been nominated by the Government of India for the Gandhi Peace Prize. He served on the board of the Winnipeg Art Gallery and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.
Among his many honours and awards are; Order of Canada, 2021, the Order of Manitoba in 2005 and honorary degrees from Bishop’s University, St. Mary’s University, Lethbridge University, Athabasca University, the Law Society of Ontario and the University of Manitoba.
Ovide is the author of My Silent Drum a book of poetry and enjoys golfing.
Currently, Ovide is working for Nishnawbe Aski in Northern Ontario on the application of the Declaration of Indigenous Rights as a tool for reform of Canadian laws.