AFN National Chief RoseAnne Archibald THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
By Bree Duwyn
OTTAWA- Assembly of First Nations National Chief RoseAnne Archibald along with her lawyers have labelled the organization’s move to suspend her and prevent her from attending its annual general assembly as unlawful and a violation of its own charter.
Archibald was suspended by the AFN’s executive committee and national board of directors on June 17, following a public statement she made the day before. In it, Archibald alleges she was attacked for trying to investigate corruption and collusion within the assembly and called for a forensic audit of the organization over the last eight years.
The assembly’s statement last week said she has been suspended with pay until an investigation into four complaints against her is complete, and the committee has a chance to review a subsequent report. It accuses her of “serious breaches of her obligations to the AFN” and public attacks that undermine the assembly’s work.
Archibald says the executive committee does not have the power to suspend a national chief, which would require the calling of a special assembly, and that she is seeking a court order to have her suspension declared null and void. “These actions taken by some Regional Chiefs on the Executive Committee are in violation of the AFN’s Charter,” her post read. “The Regional Chiefs on the AFN Executive Committee do NOT have the power to suspend a National Chief.”
In Archibald’s post, she also says that her purported suspension was put into effect as a means to intimidate, punish, and silence her.
The Regional Chiefs on the committee who voted in favour of her suspension are now being accused, by Archibald, of violating their oath to uphold provisions of the AFN Charter.
Archibald’s understanding of the charter is that within Article 22.2, it states that the “only way to remove a National Chief is for the Confederacy of Nations to call a Special Assembly for that purpose.”
The AFN Charter states that “The National Chief shall be elected for a three-year term and be eligible for re-election but may be removed by a majority of 60% of the registered representatives of First Nations at a Special Assembly convened by the Confederacy of Nations for that purpose.”
Archibald’s public post further claims that she has been forced to take legal action to refute her suspension. Archibald has teamed up with Shillers LLP to respond to the Executive Committee of the Assembly of First Nations’ letter on June 17, which detailed Archibald’s suspension and barred entry to the Annual General Assembly.
Shillers LLP then demanded a response to hear back from the committee regarding a Special Assembly, where presumably, Archibald would be suspended.
They requested notice of when the Special Assembly meeting would be held to suspend and bar Archibald from upcoming events, as well as the agenda, minutes and the resolution passed within the meeting.
Shillers LLP described the National Chief as someone who “ran on a platform of truth, transparency, and accountability” in her efforts with the AFN. Shillers LLP also considers the incident to additionally hinder her pursuit of the mandate she had been elected to pursue by First Nations peoples.
The Executive Committee had until noon on June 23 to respond to Shillers LLP’s letter with confirmation, in writing, that Archibald’s suspension was an illegal act without proper authority and that the suspension will be lifted.
It also details that Archibald will have the freedom to resume her normal duties and the ability to attend any and all meetings at the Annual General Assembly next month. The committee is expected to release an approved press release confirming these objectives.
If the Executive Committee has not issued a response, in accordance with Archibald’s post, Archibald and Shillers LLP plan to bring forth legal proceedings to obtain a Court Order to declare “the Executive Committee’s actions null and void, lifting the purported suspension, and allowing her to attend the July 4-8 (Annual General Assembly) 2022 meetings.”
Archibald’s lawyer, Aaron Detlor did not respond to Turtle Island News requests for comment.