Two Algonquin chiefs have put forward a draft resolution calling for an end to the purported suspension of AFN National Chief RoseAnne Archibald, a third-party forensic audit into the organization’s contracts and payouts, and a third-party probe into “toxicity, corruption, gender discrimination and lateral violence at the AFN.”
The resolution is currently unnumbered and not included in the posted resolutions package that hundreds of First Nations chiefs will debate next week during the advocacy organization’s annual general assembly.
But its mover, Algonquins of Pikwakanagan Chief Wendy Jocko, confirmed she and Lance Haymond, chief of Kebaowek First Nation in Quebec, brought it forward to end what they say is the “unlawful” and “draconian” suspension of the national chief by the regional chiefs.
Jocko said she isn’t sure if it will make it to the floor. She said she did get confirmation it had been received and that it’s now with the resolutions committee, who will decide if it meets the criteria.
APTN News asked the AFN about the resolution’s status but did not immediately hear back.
The national advocacy group is heading into its annual summer assembly rocked by internal controversy that has exploded publicly in an all-out political feud with allegations of corruption and bullying, swirling alongside threats of litigation and challenges to Archibald’s leadership.
The regional chiefs and national chief serve both as the AFN’s executive committee and as the board of directors for its corporate arm, the National Indian Brotherhood. The national chief chairs executive meetings and casts the tiebreaker during votes.
The executive committee purported to suspend Archibald after she went public slamming what she called “corruption and collusion” at AFN along with her unnamed political opponents.
It’s drawn harsh criticism from prominent First Nations pundits.
Winnipeg Free Press columnist and Indigenous studies professor Niigaan Sinclair told APTN the infighting is a “colossal embarrassment” for the organization.
Saskatoon StarPhoenix columnist Doug Cuthand said the regional chiefs have “come down on the national chief like a coup in a banana republic.”
Jocko’s resolution notes that, whichever side of the battle one happens to be on, “there is a serious problem that exists within the AFN that is causing serious reputational harm to the organization.”
In addition to calling for the probes and the end to the purported suspension, the resolution calls for a panel of five neutral chiefs to oversee the investigations and table a report.
If it makes it to the floor, it may be pitted against a resolution calling for the national chief’s removal and a new election.
There are also two competing resolutions listed atop the resolutions package on what to do with the long-defunct Confederacy of Nations arm of the AFN.
Under the AFN charter, the confederacy is supposed to be a governing body between gatherings of the chiefs in assembly. It’s supposed to be a senate-like organ that keeps the executive committee in check.
One resolution notes the confederacy has been defunct for two decades, arguing it should be abolished. Another resolution concedes the confederacy has been inactive, but argues it should be maintained.
It’s ultimately unclear what will happen at the assembly, with the regional chiefs insisting the suspension remains valid but with the national chief contending they don’t have that jurisdiction.
Sinclair, citing sources in the regional chief circles, reported the AFN may be hiring security to keep Archibald out of the assembly, but the regional chiefs refused to confirm it.
While the infighting at the AFN has ramped up lately, these battles have been raging on and off for more than a year.
Archibald was subjected to a bullying probe in February 2021, which she maintained was retaliation for her push for an independent review of the organization’s financial policies and practices.
Investigator Bryna Hatt was retained to conduct theprobe but closed it without interviewing Archibald, then Ontario regional chief, after no one lodged a formal complaint in writing.
Hatt’s investigation nevertheless noted the allegations appeared credible, but Archibald maintained the investigation lacked procedural fairness.
Archibald maintains the latest bullying allegations against her are retaliation for her refusal to approve $1 million in payouts to staff.