Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Four separate attempts to get a resolution to reinstate ousted national chief RoseAnne Archibald on the agenda for the Assembly of First Nations annual general assembly were shot down each time.
Byron Louis, chief of the Okanagan Indian Band, who moved to approve the agenda for the three-day Halifax meeting, refused to allow the resolution to be added.
“I respectfully decline that request to make an amendment to the motion,” was all Louis said.
Archibald was removed from her position as national chief as the result of a Special Chiefs Assembly on June 28. With one-third of eligible chiefs or their proxies (231) voting virtually, 71 per cent supported a resolution to immediately relieve Archibald of her elected position.
Chiefs at that meeting did not vote on a second resolution that had been put forward supporting Archibald and endorsing her leadership.
On July 10, Joanna Bernard, from Madawaska First Nation and regional chief for New Brunswick, was appointed as interim national chief by the AFN executive. She took her oath this morning.
Speaking before the agenda was passed, Bernard said the decision to place someone new in the role of national chief was the result of “careful consideration” by leadership.
“I am dedicated to maintaining stability and upholding transparency, accountability and good governance,” said Bernard. She will hold that position until a new national chief is elected in December.
It took almost a full hour to approve the agenda for the three-day meeting.
Taykwa Tagamou Nation Chief Bruce Archibald, Fort Albany First Nation Chief Elizabeth Kataquapit, and Cherish Clarke, proxy for Taku River Tlingit First Nation, all expressed displeasure in how RoseAnne Archibald had been removed from office and all wanted her reinstatement included as a resolution on the agenda.
Bruce Archibald said the process was not done properly.
“I believe the chiefs in assembly, but not just a certain amount of chiefs, all the chief should have a vote on how these processes are being done,” he said. “From what I can I remember is that the chiefs voted in the national chief.”
Kataquapit requested that the second resolution that did not hit the floor on June 28 be included on this agenda.
That resolution also called for the regional chiefs on the executive committee to “remove themselves from overseeing any investigative process that involves themselves or their colleagues to ensure the integrity of the process and abide by the AFN Charter’s rules on conflict of interest.”
Clarke argued that not enough was known about the independent human resources investigation into allegations against Archibald for the harassment of five people.
Chiefs tuning into the June 28 meeting were presented with a summary that upheld two harassment complaints against Archibald and found that she had retaliated against all five complainants. She was also found to have breached the AFN’s Whistleblower Policy by making public statements.
“People were forced to make a decision with very little information,” said Clarke.
Two of the three requests made to change the agenda went to Louis as “friendly amendments.” After he didn’t accept them twice, AFN co-chair Adam Fiddler did not go back a third time for Louis’ rejection.
However, Doreen Cardinal Summers, proxy for Chapleau Cree First Nation, took exception to the mover being given sole control of what went on the agenda.
Summers called a point of order citing a rule in the AFN procedures handbook.
After taking time to examine the specified rule, Fiddler said it dealt with resolutions and not motions. He said as adopting the agenda was a motion, the rule was not applicable.
“I respectfully disagree with the process. I think when a resolution is tabled on the floor, that it’s up to chiefs-in-assembly who are rights holding members of the AFN to vote. I don’t think that it should be up to the chairs or two people sitting in the room that have brought an agenda and have attempted to have an agenda pass,” said Summers.
“We are following the rules of procedure,” said Fiddler.
RoseAnne Archibald, who tweeted earlier in the meeting that AFN was blocking her from entering the room online even though she was a voting proxy for Homepayne First Nation Chief Ron Kocsis, did get recognized by Fiddler.
She accused AFN of “closing ranks against the chiefs and trying to usurp authority of chiefs by hand selecting certain chiefs” to make motions, including introducing the agenda.
She implored chiefs to “stand up and to not allow this agenda to go ahead as it is because it is a railroaded process that is unfair, that is not allowing for accountability for the political coup that happened.”
However, as far as Gull Bay First Nation Chief Wilfred King was concerned, a late resolution to reinstate Archibald, had not gone through the correct process. As an emergency resolution, it needed to get approval from the executive committee.
“I’d like to move on with the business,” said King, “and I will not be supporting the amendment to include RoseAnne Archibald to be reinstated as national chief.”
“Today I call you as leaders, do what you’re elected to do. Represent your people. Do not allow the re-litigation of policy and procedures at this forum,” said Chief Roddy Gould of Abegweit First Nation.
Nine opposition votes were recorded to passing the agenda without including a resolution for Archibald’s reinstatement. There were also 10 abstentions. However, the motion received its required 60 per cent to pass. With 186 delegates both in person and virtually, the quorum for the day was set at 95.
Local Journalism Initiative Reporters are supported by a financial contribution made by the Government of Canada.