The former national chief of the Assembly of First Nations RoseAnne Archibald says she’ll make her first comments since being fired from the organization’s top job on July 3 according to an online statement posted by members of her team.
“Wahcheeyay, #TeamRoseAnne here letting you know a video statement from RoseAnne is coming Monday to address the great injustice against her, all women, and grassroots peoples,” the statement posted on Facebook said.
“RoseAnne told us that she will be entering ceremony this weekend to ground her sacred responsibilities. She also looks forward to going live to connect with you soon.
“In the meantime, call your Chief & Council to ask how they voted on the 28th and why. Did they consult you as grassroots people (who elected them)? See you Monday.”
RoseAnne will be releasing a video on Monday and going on Facebook Live later next week. Please share widely.
—#TeamRoseAnne #TruthTransparencyAccountability #LetHerLead #Grassroots #RiseUp pic.twitter.com/yOPPSM3Llz
— RoseAnne Archibald
On Wednesday, in an unprecedented vote with a third of eligible chiefs and proxies, Archibald was fired from her position. According to multiple sources, 163 chiefs and proxies voted to oust the embattled leader. Sixty-two voted against her removal.
The coup was led by several members of the AFN executive made up of regional chiefs across the country.
The AFN consists of a national chief and 11 “regional chiefs” that make up the executive. The lobby group says it represents 634 First Nations across the country.
According to a document prepared for the AFN, 268 chiefs and proxies were at the virtual meeting. That included former regional chief for British Columbia (and former justice minister and attorney general of Canada) Jody Wilson-Raybould.
Read who was at the meeting here: AFN virtual meeting June 28
It’s not clear which way members of the executive voted in the meeting, which was closed to most members of the media and First Nations citizens.
Some, like Cindy Woodhouse, regional chief for Manitoba, Bobby Cameron, regional chief for Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia Regional Chief Paul Prosper have pushed back against Archibald’s managing style since she was elected in 2021.
An external human resources review said that Archibald was guilty of violating the organization’s policies.
“Harassment was found to exist and further to that there was a breach of confidentiality and reprisal that is retaliation against all five complainants,” Prosper told APTN on Thursday, a day after the vote.
“So these are serious findings that required immediate action.”
Judith Sayers said she hopes that things can settle down and the AFN can do the advocacy that is needed in Ottawa.
Sayers, president of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, was acting as a proxy for Huu-ay-aht First Nation during the meeting on Wednesday.
She said it wasn’t anything that she took great pleasure in, but the removal of Archibald as national chief was something that was necessary.
When it comes to allegations that misogyny played a role in the decision, Sayers said “there might have been a few that might have been misogynistic” but for the most part leaders were looking at this professionally and at the future of the AFN.
“Let’s get down to business, we need to do this now,” she told APTN.
Sayers said she felt a lot of chiefs weren’t on the line during the virtual assembly because of the multitude of issues that communities are facing.
But one issue she does side with Archibald is the need for a financial audit.
“Let’s put all of these allegations to rest or let’s address them, just depends on what the report [forensic audit] says,” she said.
First attempted coup
The first attempt at removing Archibald came in 2022 at a gathering of chiefs in Vancouver.
While the executive, who aren’t voted in by members or citizens of any community, wanted to show Archibald the door, the majority of chiefs and proxies in attendance voted to keep Archibald in her position.
They wanted to see the forensic audit completed.
Ginger Gosnell-Myers, a staunch Archibald supporter, was the AFN youth co-chair from 2001 to 2005. The position, she said, gave her access to executive meetings with the national and regional chiefs that were behind closed doors.
“What was really shocking and disappointing to me was how much money and how much wealth was being used to prop up the expenses of the executive,” she said.
“The budgets that were going into living allowances, car allowances, travel allowances – we’re talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars on top of their salaries.
Prosper told APTN that the executive hasn’t found the money to conduct the financial audit yet.
The next full assembly begins on July 11 in Halifax.