AFN suspends National Chief Archibald, launches investigation

OTTAWA — The Assembly of First Nations Executive Committee and Board of Directors have suspended National Chief RoseAnne Archibald.

The AFN’s executive committee and board of directors said in a release on June 17 that her suspension is pending the outcome of investigations into four complaints against her.

It says Archibald’s suspension was prompted by public statements she made Thursday that breached her obligations to the AFN and are contrary to her oath of office, the AFN’s code of conduct and its Whistleblower Policy.

In a statement on Thursday posted to social media, Archibald made several claims about the organization she leads, claiming that members of the AFN were receiving large payouts and claims of AFN executives organizing back room deals with corporations for personal gain.

The AFN says Archibald has been ordered not to discuss the investigation publicly and is prohibited from attending its annual general assembly and chief’s assembly meeting next month.

In a statement Thursday, Archibald said she was being “undermined, discredited and attacked” for trying to clean up corruption in the AFN.

Some of the complaints against her were launched last year, and included claims of a toxic work environment where staff were subjected to imposed prayer sessions and asked to disclose childhood traumas. Staff reported that they dreaded coming to work each day, some being reduced to tears after being shouted at by the national chief, according to CBC.

Sources also told CBC Archibald had not signed her employment contract and was seeking the same salary as the prime minister.

Archibald’s lawyer, Aaron Deltor, says those allegations are incorrect.

Archibald was previously attempting to dissolve the AFN secretariat, the administrative arm of the AFN, which employs 200 people.

Regional Chief Paul Prosper, an AFN spokesman, said Friday in a statement that it is regrettable that it 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,” he said.

In a release Friday, she said she will not back down in her attempt to shine a light on what she calls “corruption and collusion within the AFN.”

“I am of the opinion that there is a pattern at the AFN of launching false investigations,” she said.“What is happening is wrong, but it is not about me. It is a manufactured distraction from my repeated calls to investigate the past eight years of wrongdoing within the AFN.”

The Chiefs of Ontario released a statement Friday saying they support the AFN.

“The National Chief appeared at the Chiefs of Ontario Annual Chiefs Assembly on Wednesday, June 15 and made comments that contained inaccuracies and appear to have breached AFN employees’ right to privacy and confidentiality. In her subsequent statement, released on Thursday and Friday, she claimed that the Ontario Chiefs-in-Assembly had passed a resolution requiring the AFN to install an oversight body over the AFN’s Executive Committee. No such resolution was passed: Resolution 22/27A, passed by the Ontario Chiefs-in-Assembly, supported the continuation of the mandate of the AFN’s Restructuring Committee. That resolution did not call for the creation of a body to oversee the AFN’s Executive Committee.

Ontario Regional Chief Glen Hare said, “The AFN is a vital and effective organization. National Chief Archibald has made some very serious allegations about the AFN and its employees and we have yet to see any evidence supporting her claims.

In her statements over the past few days, National Chief Archibald called our national organization corrupt and disclosed confidential information about employees. She called for the dissolution of the AFN’s operations, whose 200 employees work hard to fulfill the directions set out by the National Chiefs Assembly. It should be noted that AFN’s annual, regular audits have not indicated any impropriety. I have great confidence in the integrity and responsibility of the AFN. That said, if a forensic audit is necessary in order to address the National Chief’s allegations, then perhaps that is what should occur. Transparency is a key part of integrity and accountability.

It is very regrettable that in her statements, the National Chief has attacked and undermined the very same organization she was elected to lead and to which she has a fiduciary obligation. The investigation underway into the complaints against her will continue. Until the results of that independent investigation are complete, the AFN must be able to continue its vital work and protect the privacy and well-being of its employees.

The AFN’s decision to suspend National Chief Archibald was necessary in order for it to ensure it could fulfill those obligations. The Chiefs of Ontario will continue to support the AFN as it does this work.”

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