AFN delegates vote overwhelmingly in support of embattled national chief
Chiefs representing Indigenous communities from coast to coast have descended on Vancouver for the Assembly of First Nations General Assembly — with several resolutions on the agenda that could determine the political fate of their elected leader.
National Chief RoseAnne Archibald, the first woman elected to that position, entered day one of the assembly under suspension and with her future very much in doubt.
“It’s not an easy decision. It has been based on much discussion amongst our executive,” said Regional Chief Paul Prosper who represents Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. “Many long days, many long nights.”
Archibald has been suspended with pay since June 17 over alleged workplace bullying and harassment.
But she claims the suspension is part of what she calls an attempted coup in retaliation for her attempts to shine a light on alleged corruption within the AFN.
When she campaigned for the role of national chief, she promised that if elected she would root out corruption within the organization.
“I am relentless in my pursuit of truth. Let me assure you that the struggle for transparency, accountability and truth is an honourable and worthy cause,” Chief Archibald told the assembled delegates ahead of a vote on her suspension.
The emergency resolution calling on the chiefs to uphold the suspension handed down by the executive was brought forward by Kúkpi7 Rosanne Casimir of Tk’emlups te Secwepemc who said the leadership situation had become a national embarrassment.
But Chief Archibald’s supporters fiercely defended her in the debate before the vote, asserting the members of the executive do not have the authority to suspend the elected national chief.
“They made a mistake. They should not have tried to suspend the national chief,” said Khelsilem, elected chair of the Squamish Nation. “They got caught. Now this resolution comes forward to try to fix what they shouldn’t have done in the first place.”
The resolution calling for Archibald’s suspension was roundly rejected by the chiefs with only 44 voting in support of it, 252 voting against and 26 abstentions.
Two other votes on emergency resolutions that were supposed to take place on Tuesday have been put over until Wednesday.
One calls for an independent audit of the AFN’s financial and management practices.
The other calls for a non-confidence vote in the national chief’s leadership — but based on the show of support she received on Tuesday, Archibald can probably be fairly confident in her political future.