Turbulent Journey Ends: RoseAnne Archibald Ousted As AFN National Chief

In a shocking turn of events, RoseAnne Archibald, the first woman national Chief of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), has been voted out of office in a special virtual meeting on Wednesday night. Over 70% of the country’s regional chiefs voted in favour of her removal after an investigation found allegations of harassment and bullying by several staff members. This marks the conclusion of a tumultuous year for Archibald, who was elected to the prestigious position in July 2021.

In June 2022, the AFN initiated an investigation against Chief Archibald following accusations of bullying and harassment by four staff members. Archibald welcomed the investigation in response and called for a forensic audit and independent inquiry into the organization’s operations over the past eight years. She maintained that the complaints were an attempt to deter her from uncovering potential wrongdoing within the AFN. Furthermore, Archibald alleged that the four complainants had ulterior motives for securing lucrative contracts worth $1 million. She believed a forensic audit would illuminate the organization’s financial transactions.

However, Archibald’s public statement on June 16, 2022, breached her obligations to the AFN, violating the organization’s Code of Conduct, her Oath of Office, and the AFN Whistleblower Policy. Consequently, the AFN’s Executive Committee and National Board of Directors voted to suspend Chief Archibald. The decision was prompted by her disclosure of confidential information regarding the ongoing complaints against her staff, which compromised the integrity of the assembly’s complaint process.

Chief Archibald maintained that her suspension was a violation of the AFN’s charter and an attempt to intimidate, punish, and silence her in response to her allegations of possible misuse of public funds by the assembly. Undeterred by the circumstances, Archibald remained indomitable and resilient in her fight for truth. Her supporters rallied at the annual Assembly of First Nations meeting in Vancouver, passionately advocating for her cause. Archibald’s steadfast determination brought attention to larger systemic issues within the AFN and the need for greater transparency and accountability.

With Archibald’s removal from office, the AFN faces appointing an interim Grand Chief until a national assembly is held in December to elect a permanent replacement. This pivotal moment allows the organization to reflect on the past year’s events and prioritize transparency, accountability, and fair governance moving forward. The AFN must address the concerns raised during Archibald’s tenure and work towards rebuilding trust among its constituents.

Archibald’s tenure was marred by allegations of harassment and bullying, resulting in her suspension and subsequent removal from office. While Archibald’s supporters continue to rally behind her, the AFN must now chart a new course and strive to strengthen its integrity, transparency, and commitment to serving the interests of Indigenous peoples across Canada.

As the country reaches the end of National Indigenous History Month, the timing of Archibald’s ousting from the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations feels untimely. With the significant strides made during this month to honour and celebrate Indigenous heritage and accomplishments, the abrupt removal of Archibald could have been postponed until the beginning of July. This would have allowed for a more considered transition and a respectful acknowledgment of the importance of this commemorative month.

Image source AFN Twitter feed