Fred Kelly

First Nations Elder

Fred Kelly is a citizen of the Ojibways of Onigaming, a community of the Anishinaabe Nation in Treaty #3. Kizhebowse Mukwaa (Kind Walking Bear) of the Lynx Clan is an Elder in Midewin, the Sacred Law and Medicine Society of the Anishinaabe. As such he is a Keeper and Practitioner of Sacred Law. He is also a Drum Keeper and a Pipe Carrier and has been called upon to administer healing therapies among many indigenous people on Turtle Island and to conduct sacred ceremonies across Canada, in the United States, Mexico, Japan, Argentina, and Israel.

Elder Kelly heads the Nimishomis-Nokomis Healing Group, a consortium of traditional healers that provides therapy to victims of the trauma and legacy of the residential school system. He is a survivor of Indian Residential School in Kenora, Ontario and Lebret, Saskatchewan. He was a member of the Assembly of First Nations team that negotiated the historic Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement and continues to advise individual victims on their healing journeys.

Kizhebowse is fluent in the Anishinaabe and English languages and is a sought-after speaker on the history, cultures, and pre-contact Treaties among indigenous nations of Turtle Island as well as treaties with the Crown. He is recognized as an eloquent orator who has been the guest at numerous functions; colleges and universities; and television and radio shows in Canada and the United States. Fred has conducted cross-country tours to all major universities in Canada. He has also been invited to lecture at the University of Minnesota, UCLA, and Harvard where he was invited to be a Special Commenter on Tribal Constitutional and Governance Renewal by the Harvard University Native American Program.

Fred served as Chief of his own community and is Grand Chief Emeritus of the Anishinaabe Nation in Treaty #3; and was the Ontario Regional Director of the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. He continues to function as a spiritual advisor to First Nation leadership in Canada including the Assembly of First Nations; Chiefs in Ontario; and Grand Council Treaty #3 where he is the principal advisor on the restoration of the traditional constitution, governance and jurisdiction.

In 1965, at the age of twenty-three, he led the first protest march of its kind in Canada that is now known as the birth of the indigenous civil rights movement in this country. He was one of the organizers of the National Indian Brotherhood and assisted in its transition to become the Assembly of First Nations. He organized the Chiefs of Ontario in 1975 then went on to play a key role in the negotiations that led to the recognition of Aboriginal and Treaty rights in the Canadian Constitution.

Fred is a consensus builder who among other activities enjoined Canada, Harvard University, and Motorola in a major overhaul of the education system at Onigaming. He has worked with various Child and Family Service Agencies in the development of laws in Child Care and the harmonization of those laws and policies with Ontario. He was instrumental in the establishment of Bimose Tribal Council, Kenora Chiefs Advisory, Anishinaabeg of Kabapikotawangag Resources Council (AKRC), and numerous other First Nations institutions in Economic Development and Education. He developed the strategic plan on Treaty Implementation for the Assembly of First Nations. He also authored the comprehensive strategic plan for the Chiefs in Ontario that incorporates the revitalization of nationhood and pre-contact treaties among indigenous nations in the territory now known as Ontario. He is also an Elder Advisor to the Great Lakes and Fish and Wildlife Commission in Wisconsin, and to the United Tribes in America and First Nations of the Great Lakes Basin on traditional law in respect of water and the environment.

Fred Kelly has been operating a successful consultancy in strategic planning and management, negotiations and policy development, corporate governance for over forty years. He is also a practitioner of traditional methods in conflict resolution including mediation and other customary intervention approaches.