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First Nations leaders to debate national chief’s suspension, as annual general assembly begins

3 emergency resolutions on National Chief RoseAnne Archibald to be addressed Tuesday

AFN National Chief RoseAnne Archibald arrives at the annual general assembly at the Vancouver Convention Centre with a small group of supporters including First Nations chiefs and grassroots community members.

AFN National Chief RoseAnne Archibald arrives at the annual general assembly at the Vancouver Convention Centre with a small group of supporters including First Nations chiefs and grassroots community members.

Photo:  CBC / Ka’nhehsí:io Deer


Grassroots supporters of Assembly of First Nations National Chief RoseAnne Archibald waited outside of the Vancouver Convention Centre Tuesday to show solidarity as the annual general assembly begins.

The AFN's executive committee suspended Archibald last month. It issued a statement Monday night urging that issues related to the human resource complaints involving the AFN National Chief do not overshadow the real and ongoing work.

The statement also called on Archibald to cease actions and statements that amount to serious breaches of the confidentiality and privacy interests of AFN employees, service providers and others, including making broad allegations of misconduct.

Ginger Gosnell-Myers, a member of the Nisga'a and Kwakwak'awakw nations, and a former co-chair of the AFN's national youth council, was among the group outside the convention centre.

There's a lot of shady misogyny happening behind the scenes that we just don't know about as the general public. We don't want to stand for it, she said.

She said during her time with the AFN, she witnessed sexism.

We tried to call it out, it was never addressed, said Gosnell-Myers.

Here we are today standing behind AFN National Chief Archibald because she's facing the same sexism.

During her welcoming speech at the opening of the assembly Monday, Archibald did not address her suspension but said, I know we will be able to walk through this together.

Archibald alleges that she's being targeted for calling for a forensic audit. 

It's not an HR matter, she told reporters before entering the convention centre.

AFN needs to be cleaned up. It needs to be healed, and it's a part of my lifelong work of transparency, accountability, and truth.

A number of chiefs, and grassroots supporters sang and drummed her into the building.

Neskonlith Kukpi7 (chief) Judy Wilson said the suspension is the harshest action she's seen taken against a national chief.

All of those issues need to be addressed, but in a process in proper order, said Wilson.

That's what I'm supporting today, getting that addressed first thing so that we can get on with the important business we have going on here.

Judy Wilson is Kukpi7 (chief) of Neskonlith in B.C.

Judy Wilson is Kukpi7 (chief) of Neskonlith in B.C.

Photo:  CBC / Ka’nhehsí:io Deer

The annual general assemblies are means for First Nations leaders to set priorities and strategic direction. The agenda includes discussions and resolutions to address clean drinking water, housing, missing and murdered Indigenous women, child welfare, policing, and many other priorities to First Nations across Canada.

There's so many issues as chiefs that we've travelled to address, said Wilson.

We're looking forward to getting to that business.

3 emergency draft resolutions

Archibald's suspension is the subject of three emergency draft resolutions to be brought forward at the assembly Tuesday.

The first, moved by chief Wendy Jocko of Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation, Ont., calls for an immediate end to this unsubstantiated and unlawful suspension, as well as for an independent third-party forensic audit into AFN's financial activities over the last eight years and a third-party investigation into the climate of toxicity, corruption, gender discrimination and lateral violence at the AFN.

Moved by Chief Rod Travers, Kinonjeoshtegon First Nation, Man., another draft resolution calls for a vote of non-confidence of Archibald for breaching confidentiality by publicly disclosing Assembly of First Nations human resource matters.

A third resolution, moved by the executive committee, calls for Archibald to be temporarily suspended from her role and functions pending the outcome of an ongoing HR investigation.

This is a human resources issue, a work-place issue and no one should rush for judgment, said Joanna Bernard, AFN regional chief for New Brunswick.

Doing a proper confidential investigation is the right thing to do.

Ka’nhehsí:io Deer (new window) · CBC News