Fred Kelly is a citizen of the Ojibways of Onigaming 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. He is also a Drum Keeper and Calumet Carrier and has been called upon to administer healing therapies among many indigenous people on Turtle Island, and to conduct ceremonies across Canada, in the United States, Mexico, Japan, Argentina, Israel and Switzerland. Elder Kelly heads the Nimishomis-Nokomis Healing Group, a consortium of Traditional Healers that provide therapy to victims of the trauma and legacy of the residential school system. He is a survivor of Indian Residential Schools in Kenora, Ontario and Lebret, Saskatchewan. He was a member of the Assembly of First Nations team that negotiated the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement and continues to advise individuals in 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 relations among indigenous nations on Turtle Island, as well as Treaties with the Crown. He is recognized as an eloquent leader and orator who has been the guest at numerous functions and assemblies, colleges and universities, and television and radio shows in Canada and the United States. Fred has lectured at the University of Minnesota, UCLA, and Harvard where he was also asked 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 for the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. He continues to serve as a spiritual advisor to First Nation leaders in Canada including the Assembly of First Nations, Chiefs of Ontario, and Grand Council Treaty #3 for whom he still serves as the principal advisor on restoration of its traditional Constitution, governance, and jurisdiction.
In 1965, at the age of twenty-three in Kenora, Kizhebowse led the first protest march by First Nations – the first of its kind in the country – that has been referred to as the birth of the indigenous civil rights movement in Canada. He went on to be 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 served as a key technical advisor in the recognition and affirmation of Aboriginal and Treaty Rights in the Canadian Constitution (1982).
Fred is a consensus builder who, among other activities, enjoined Canada, Harvard, and Motorola University in the major overhaul of education in his community through technology infusion into its system. He has led family agencies within his Nation to develop written law in child care that harmonizes with Crown jurisdiction. He was the advisor in the founding of Bimose Tribal Council, Kenora Chiefs Advisory Council, and the Anishinaabeg of Kabapikotawangag Resources Council (AKRC). He developed the strategic plan for Treaty Compliance and Enforcement for the Assembly of First Nations. He also authored the strategic organizational plan for the Chiefs of Ontario to re-establish functional indigenous nations in the territory known as Ontario. On the international front, Fred serves as a special advisor to the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission based in Wisconsin.