The Tŝilhqot’in National Government is voicing its support for recently suspended Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Roseanne Archibald in her call for a forensic audit and fundamental reform at AFN.
“The suspension itself is egregious and unacceptable,” stated the TNG, noting Archibald’s efforts to create change within the AFN organization are long overdue.
On June 17 Archibald was suspended with pay by the AFN executive committee and national board of directors, who cited complaints of bullying against her as well as breaching her obligations to the AFN, contrary to her Oath of Office, the organization’s Code of Conduct and AFN Whistleblower Policy.
Archibald alleges, however, she’s been undermined and discredited for trying to uncover corruption and a lack of transparency internally.
AFN noted the National Chief has been ordered not to discuss the on-going investigation publicly and was prohibited from attending the Annual General Assembly and Chief’s Assembly meeting next week, but has since said she could attend.
“It is regrettable that we had to take this severe action but we had no other choice. The National Chief has committed serious breaches of her obligations to the AFN through unfounded and unsubstantiated public attacks on the integrity of our organization and our employees that will only serve to undermine the good work we do as we continue to serve our First Nations communities,” said Regional Chief Paul Prosper, an AFN spokesperson.
On June 30, AFN said it had “successfully resisted the attempt by National Chief RoseAnne Archibald to have a court convene an urgent hearing to overturn her suspension and mandate her attendance throughout the AFN Annual General Assembly (AGA) next week in Vancouver.”
The AFN Executive Committee said Archibald will no longer be prevented from attending the AGA next week to speak to a resolution that the Chiefs in Assembly ratify and continue the suspension.
The Executive Committee argued that the National Chief’s court action raised disputes that are part of First Nations’ self-governance, and should not be resolved by Canadian courts.
Prior to the court ruling, Nits’ilʔin (Chief) Joe Alphonse, O.B.C., Tribal Chair, Tŝilhqot’in National Government said “the actions of the AFN executive committee and board of directors are absolutely shameful.”
“Chiefs across the country elected National Chief Archibald – let her do her job. It is past due to shake up AFN as an organization. National Chief Archibald, the first female to ever hold this position, is a force for change that I have always supported.”
Describing the AFN as an “outdated and patriarchal” organization, the TNG said the Tŝilhqot’in chiefs are deeply concerned that it remains focused on politics rather than improving the lives of First Nations across Canada.
AFN National chiefs should be elected by all Indigenous people in the country, not just by the chiefs, Alphonse said.
“That way the mandate will be truly about serving people in First Nations communities – not these ugly politics between chiefs. Bring on the forensic audit, hold AFN up to the light, and clean house. AFN needs a total overhaul if it wants to serve the First Nations people that really matter.”
Archibald visited the Cariboo-Chilcotin visiting with members of the Tsilhqot’in and Secwepemc First Nations Oct. 3, attending a fish ceremony at Farwell and touring the new administrative building at Williams Lake First Nation and visiting the grounds of the former St. Joseph’s Mission residential school.