National Chief Phil Fontaine took the last day of his reign to address his people, and reflect upon his leadership of Canadian Aboriginal Peoples over the past decade.

Fontaine has been the national chief for the past nine years and he told delegates yesterday at the 30th annual Assembly of First Nations conference in Calgary that stepping down was a difficult decision, but one with which he is content.

The former chief of the Sagkeeng First Nation in Manitoba said he felt blessed to have this time as leader.

“I consider it a rare privilege.”

Fontaine reflected on the past nine years on what has been accomplished for First Nations people in this country and said everything has been done for the good of the people.

Successes Fontaine touched on included improving band leadership representation between male and female elders, building relationships with the private sector and the $1.4-billion stimulus package to Aboriginals.

Fontaine also spoke about the apology given on June 11, 2008 to the survivors of residential schools and it is a start to the work that still needs to be done.

“That work will be made so much easier by the apology and those words spoken by the prime minister.”

Fontaine said the gap between Aboriginals other Canadians in terms of housing, education and quality of life still needed to be addressed.

The election for the new chief begins today.