Mercredi, Ovide William

Ovide William Mercredi, lawyer, native leader (b at Grand Rapids, Man 1946). After graduating from U of Manitoba, Mercredi practised law at The Pas until 1982, when he became legal adviser and then director of the ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS at Ottawa. In 1990 he helped to co-ordinate the successful effort by the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs to block the MEECH LAKE ACCORD (seeMEECH LAKE ACCORD: DOCUMENT) in the Manitoba legislature. A year later he succeeded Georges Erasmus as national chief of the AFN. A skilled and resolute negotiator, committed to the belief that getting constitutional recognition of ABORIGINAL RIGHTS was the necessary first step to solving aboriginals' problems, he was a prominent participant in the constitutional discussions of 1991-92.

The CHARLOTTETOWN ACCORD (seeCHARLOTTETOWN ACCORD: DOCUMENT) produced a commitment to ABORIGINAL SELF-GOVERNMENT but no concrete details and its failure to obtain passage left aboriginal self-government on the constitutional back-burner. Mercredi's leadership of the AFN came under fire over his administrative style which did not include consulting the chiefs on a regular basis. He was elected to another term as national chief in a very close vote in 1994 and was defeated in July 1997 by Phil Fontaine.