RoseAnne Archibald removed from Assembly of First Nations general assembly

The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) annual general assembly got off to a rocky start Tuesday in Halifax with disorder and infighting as chiefs and proxies argued over adding recently ousted national chief RoseAnne Archibald to the agenda.

Archibald, attending as a proxy for Hornepayne First Nation Chief Ron Kocsis, was removed from the assembly after two turns at the mic.

“We want to get business done, we want decorum to be respected, heard,” said one of the meeting’s chairs. “It is very difficult to say but the decision is to refuse to admit proxy RoseAnne Archibald in this (general assembly).”

Former national chief Archibald was removed from her position on June 28 when a Special Chiefs Assembly was convened to “report on the findings of a human resources investigation.”

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Archibald was accused of workplace harassment and creating a toxic work environment, which led to an investigation and report.

When the vote was called, 163 chiefs and proxies voted to get rid of Archibald while 62 voted against her removal — the AFN represents more than 600 First Nations.

Click to play video: 'What does oversight look like at the Assembly of First Nations?'

What does oversight look like at the Assembly of First Nations?

Chief Bruce Archibald of Taykwa Tagamou Nation brought up the resolution.

“I (want to) put forward a resolution to reinstate Chief Archibald. I believe processes we went through … all the chiefs should have had a vote.” He urged chiefs to “stand up and speak on the wrongs that have been done.”

Soon after the motion was presented RoseAnne Archibald appeared on screen via Zoom. She had tweeted earlier that she’d been blocked from entering the online meeting.

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“I want you to know chiefs, that this process is being railroaded … this is an affront to democracy,” she said, accusing the AFN of hand-picking movers and seconders.

“I think chiefs in the room and chiefs online need to be extremely concerned about discussion.”

Despite being supported by several chiefs in the room, few were in favour of adding Archibald to the agenda.

Gull Bay First Nation Chief Wilfred King said, “We met on June 28 … everyone had the opportunity to attend this meeting and vote.”

Joan Jack, a lawyer and founder of the online group Deadly Kookums and Aunties, an advocacy group for Indigenous issues, said she was disappointed watching how the meeting was conducted.

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In a Facebook live she said there were abuses of procedure.

“Under the procedural rules the mover of the agenda apparently has the 100 per cent authority to say no to any proposed amendments,” said Jack.

“All (the mover) had to do was say no, I don’t approve that amendment to add the resolution.”

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What can we expect from the 2023 AFN general assembly?

After several back and forths, with chiefs lined up at various mics and two points of order, the assembly took a vote.

The AFN agenda was adopted without the resolution to reinstate RoseAnne Archibald as AFN national chief.

No one in the room in Halifax voted to reject the agenda but 10 abstained and 10 voted against online. The general assembly continues Wednesday.

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More to come.

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