Suspended AFN national chief calls for allies to ‘rise up,’ accuses regional chiefs of staging a ‘coup’

RoseAnne Archibald is now barred from attending organization’s general assembly slated to begin July 5 in Vancouver

AFN Archibald

AFN National Chief RoseAnne Archibald was elected in July 2021 but has been suspended before serving a full year in office. Photo: APTN

The suspended national chief of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is calling on allies to “rise up” and have their voices heard by contacting their chiefs.

RoseAnne Archibald has also called on non-Indigenous people to email the prime minister or their local politicians as she pushes for a “forensic audit into salary payouts and contracts at AFN” and an independent investigation into alleged “corruption, collusion and toxic environment at AFN.”

It has been a tumultuous weekend for the national advocacy organization that voted to suspend its first female national chief.

Archibald says her work email and phone have been disabled in “another attempt to silence and disconnect” her from chiefs across the country.

Late on Friday, via press release, the AFN announced the executive committee and national board of directors of the AFN voted to suspend Archibald, effective immediately.

“The decision to suspend the national chief was prompted by her public statement issued on June 16, 2022, that breached her obligations to the AFN – contrary to her Oath of Office, the organization’s Code of Conduct and AFN Whistleblower Policy,” read the statement.

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The statement went on to say “the National Chief was suspended with pay pending the outcome of a current investigation into four complaints against her. She will be suspended until the Executive Committee reviews the investigation report and makes a final decision regarding her status.”

Archibald fired back saying the suspension was an attempt to silence her “for speaking her truth about ongoing misconduct at the Assembly of First Nations.”

“At 7:30 pm tonight two things occurred: the National Chief was locked out of her emails which signalled the beginning of a seemingly staged coup by Regional Chiefs without informing the National Chief. The National Chief, like many others, is finding out through media reporting,” said a statement released by Archibald and her legal team.

Archibald is pushing for a forensic audit and an impartial investigation into the AFN. She has been posting updates on her Twitter account.

APTN News has reached out to Archibald for an interview request but has not heard back.

The AFN suspension orders the National Chief to “not discuss the on-going investigation publicly.” She is also “prohibited from attending the Annual General Assembly and Chief’s Assembly meeting in early July.”

APTN obtained a leaked copy of a draft resolution that may be tabled during the AFN’s annual general assembly next month calling for Archibald to be removed as head of the national lobby group.

It says the national chief must receive 60 per cent of the ballots cast under AFN election procedures, but that Archibald only received 50.5 per cent of the votes during the AFN’s July 8, 2021 vote, which was held virtually because of the pandemic.

“The Electoral Officer made a mistake to declare her a winner when Reginald Bellerose [her top competitor] conceded,” the draft resolution says. “There should have been another vote to determine if she had 60% support to be the National Chief.”

APTN has reached out to recently elected Long Plain First Nation Chief Kyra Wilson, who is the chief listed as seconding the motion.

Wilson has not responded to requests for an interview.

On Monday, the Chiefs of Ontario (COO) released a statement saying the national chief appeared at the COO Annual Chiefs Assembly on June 15 and “made comments that contained inaccuracies and appear to have breached AFN employees’ right to privacy and confidentiality.”

“National Chief Archibald has made some serious allegations about the AFN and its employees and we have yet to see any evidence supporting her claims,” said Ontario Regional Chief Glen Hare in the press release.

The statement goes on to say, “in her statements over the past few days, National Chief Archibald called our national organization corrupt and disclosed confidential information about employees. She called for the dissolution of the AFN’s operations, whose 200 employees work hard to fulfill the directions set out by the National Chiefs Assembly.”

Hare’s statement says “if a forensic audit is needed to in order to address the National Chief’s allegations, then perhaps that is what should occur.”

In 2021, APTN obtained a copy of a COO resolution that called for an independent review of the AFN. At the time, Archibald was the AFN regional chief for Ontario.

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Chief brings renewed calls for scrutiny of AFN financial policies to annual general assembly

According to financial statements, the AFN received revenue of $34.2 million in 2021. That was down from the $46.1 million in 2020.

In 2016, when Justin Trudeau tabled his first budget as prime minister, the organization received $16.7 million.

The AFN’s 43rd Annual General Assembly is set to take place in Vancouver between July 5-7. The theme of the conference is “Walking the Healing Path.”

The provisional agenda still includes an address and other updates by Archibald, who is now prevented from attending the gathering.

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