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 July 11.

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.

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.

Heated comments during the afternoon over details for electing the next national chief for the Assembly of First Nations resulted in Archibald getting banned from the rest of AFN’s three-day general annual assembly in Halifax.

Chiefs were discussing an emergency resolution put forward by Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Kukpi7 Rosanne Casimer and Abegweit First Nation Chief Roddy Gould that would see an election held at the December Special Chiefs Assembly. The winner would then serve an extended term of three and a half years with the term ending July 2027. The usual term for the national chief is three years, with elections held in July.

However, with one year left in Archibald’s three-year term and Bernard selected as interim national chief for six months, the new national chief would be required to conclude Archibald’s term as well.

Archibald told the assembly that the room was full of “hatred, resentment and a myriad of negative feelings” which had been created by the regional chiefs manipulating chiefs.

“What has happened to me is not what you do from a place of love. What has happened to me has come from hatred,” she said.

AFN AGA co-chair Adam Fiddler asked for Elders and knowledge keepers to smudge the room as a response to Archibald’s comment.

He also reiterated words spoken in the opening prayer by Elder Edward Perley, as well as opening remarks about respectful conversation and honouring the seven sacred teachings.

When Archibald spoke for a second time, she referenced Fiddler’s comments as “lateral violence” and disrespectful. She implored chiefs to “let go of this hatred in your heart.”

She said instead of passing a resolution for a new election, they should be passing the second resolution that wasn’t allowed on the floor when she was voted out of office on June 28 that called for her continuing in the role as national chief.

Fiddler consulted with his co-chair Wina Sioui after Archibald’s remarks.

Sioui then cited the “discretion of the chairs related to rules pertaining to …orderly conduct” and said “Really, really, it’s very difficult.” Archibald was then expelled from the assembly.

In a tweet, Archibald responded by saying, “Due to #truth telling, I have been blocked from participating as a proxy…”

Later in the day she tweeted that she would be “taking time to reflect on the events” and would be taking a break from social media.

Chiefs and proxies did have concerns about the emergency resolution regarding the next election for national chief, but those concerns did not extend to Archibald being removed from the meeting or as national chief.

Concerns centred on the length of the time the new national chief would serve.

Regena Crowchild, proxy for Tsuut’ina Nation, pointed out that the AFN charter stated a national chief’s term was for three years and suggested Bernard serve as interim chief until July 2024 when the next election was naturally slated to occur.

While that was “doable,” said AFN legal counsel Adam Williamson, he pointed out that the June 28 resolution that came from the executive committee set the election date for the new national chief for December 2023. He said it would require a change to the June 28 resolution.

Drew Lafond, proxy for Muskeg Lake Cree Nation, challenged the length of the term as well and asked if the charter would have to be amended.

Williamson said the precedent had already been set when former national chief Shawn Atleo resigned before the end of his term and incoming national chief Perry Bellegarde served a three-and-a-half-year term. In between, Quebec and Labrador Regional Chief Ghislain Picard served as interim national chief for six-and-a-half months.

Williamson said it was an “unwritten convention that has been followed before.”

It took over an hour for chiefs to finally pass the resolution which will see them electing a new national chief in December.

In her opening speech that morning, Bernard said it was her hope that the AFN continued to see “strong women leaders.”

“We should focus on selecting a candidate who was guided by unity and shared vision of a brighter future regardless of gender,” said Bernard. “We must not lose sight of broader goals…that we strive to achieve together.”

Archibald’s election in 2021 was the first time a woman had held the position.

By Shari Narine, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,

Original Published on Jul 12, 2023 at 03:23

This item reprinted with permission from    Edmonton, Alberta
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