AFN trailblazing national Chief perseveres amidst harassment allegations
Roseanne Archibald, the national Chief of Canadas’s most influential First Nations organization, The Assembly of First Nations (A.F.N), is under pressure to step aside as she faces an external investigation over alleged bullying and harassment allegations from four of her staff members. The complaints against Assembly of First Nations National Chief RoseAnne Archibald got filed under the organization’s whistleblower policy, which was created after Archibald became national Chief last year in response to allegations of bullying and harassment during her time as Ontario Regional Chief.
Chief Archibald of Taykwa Tagamou Nation is a strength-based and heart-centered leader with 31 years of experience in First Nations politics. She is a third-generation Chief, and her ascension to the top job continues to be ground-breaking and historical for women and youth.
Chief Archibald was the first woman and youngest Chief elected for Taykwa Tagamou Nation (T.T.N.) in 1990 at 23 years of age. She was also the first woman and youngest Deputy Grand Chief for Nishnawbe-Aski Nation (NAN) and the first female and youngest Grand Chief for Mushkegowuk Council.
Chief Archibald has dedicated her adult life to serving and striving to create a better quality of life and future for First Nations people. She represents a generational change, bringing diplomacy and encouraging unity in the First Nations political system while breaking down barriers since the start of her political career.
In June 2022, The A.F.N. initiated an investigation against Chief Archibald in response to allegations of bullying and harassment by four of her staff members. As she was being investigated, Archibald stated that she “Welcomes the investigation and called for a forensic audit and independent inquiry into the last eight years of A.F.N. operations.”
Archibald proclaimed that the complaint and subsequent investigation were a “desperate attempt to deter her from uncovering the wrongdoing within the A.F.N.” She also noted the four filed complaints against her after more information was made available about their intent to secure $1 million in contracts.
A day after her statement was released, the Assembly of First Nations (A.F.N.) Executive Committee and National Board of Directors of the A.F.N. voted to suspend Chief Archibald. The decision to suspend the national Chief was prompted by her public statement issued on June 16, 2022, that breached her obligations to the A.F.N. – contrary to her Oath of Office, the organization’s Code of Conduct, and A.F.N. Whistleblower Policy.
“It is regrettable that we 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,” said Regional Chief Paul Prosper, an AFN spokesperson.
An emergency resolution was held in Vancouver before the Assembly of First Nations annual meeting to reaffirm the suspension of National Chief RoseAnne Archibald. The resolution from the investigation said Archibald disclosed confidential information about the complaints against her by the organization’s staff, compromising the integrity of the assembly’s complaint process. The vote needed the support of 60 percent of eligible delegates for approval, but the resolution was defeated.
Archibald contends that her suspension was a violation of the assembly’s charter and a means to intimidate, punish and silence her over her claims of the possible misuse of public funds by the assembly. Throughout this ordeal, Chief Archibald has remained indomitable and resilient in her fight for justice. Many of her supporters rallied at the annual Assembly of First Nations meeting in Vancouver to chant and advocate for the Chief.