Dressed in indigenous dress, National Chief RoseAnne Archibald entered the annual meeting of the Assembly of First Nations in Vancouver ahead of a group of singing supporters on Tuesday.
Just the day before, Archibald said she had been “erased” from the schedule following her suspension in June.
Instead, he led the opening ceremonies and welcomed attendees with his keynote address.
“There will be a lot to be discussed later, and I won’t touch on any of that right now,” he said, referring to his suspension.
The annual meeting comes as members of the Assembly of First Nations executive urged the 2,400 delegates in a statement not to let human resources complaints involving Archibald “overshadow the real and ongoing work that is required on behalf of of the First Nations people.
“The committee further calls on the national chief to immediately cease any actions and statements that seriously violate the confidentiality and privacy interests of AFN employees, service providers and others, including general allegations of misconduct,” the statement says.
The executive believes the actions are harmful, illegal and inappropriate, the statement said.
Musqueam’s boss, Wayne Sparrow, on whose territory the meeting is taking place, asked in his opening remarks that all attendees be respectful.
“When I came in, I had some of the elders come over. There were some signs that were not appropriate in our territory. No matter what your opinion is, seeing words like that is very hurtful to our elders and our leadership,” he said.
Archibald echoed her request, saying she “rejected” any disrespectful signals, calling the swearing a “form of verbal violence.”
“Those are not the people who support me. The people who support me want change. The people who support me want to see us move forward together in a good way. The people who support me love and care about our people,” he said. the crowd of delegates.
Archibald has alleged that she was targeted for trying to investigate corruption within the assembly and called for a forensic audit of the organization over the last eight years.
The assembly’s executive committee said on June 17 that she was suspended with pay during an investigation into four complaints against her by her staff.
Archibald has said her suspension is a violation of the assembly’s bylaws and a means to intimidate, punish and silence her for her claims about the assembly’s possible misuse of public funds.
“Obviously, I’m asking our friends for an independent audit and investigation into the AFN and I’m asking the bosses and grassroots people to talk to their bosses to ensure there’s a forensic audit and independent investigation into corruption.” and toxicity in AFN,” he said before entering the assembly on Tuesday.
He said that his entire career has been focused on transparency, accountability and truth.
“You look at every organization I’ve touched, and I’ve always left those organizations in a better light. AFN needs to be cleaned up, it needs to be healed and it’s part of my life’s work of transparency, accountability and truth.”
She said she will say more in her conference speech.
A draft resolution before the assembly calls for Archibald to be removed from office and a new election held because she did not receive the required 60 percent of the votes cast when she was elected last year.
Chief Wendy Jocko of the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation says on social media that she will also introduce an emergency resolution on the floor calling for an immediate end to Archibald’s “unlawful and unfounded suspension.”
The theme of the assembly meeting is “walking the path of healing” and it comes a day after the AFN announced a $20 billion settlement to compensate First Nations children and their families for the damage caused by chronic underfunding for child welfare on reservations.
AFN regional chief Cindy Woodhouse, chief negotiator for the assembly’s child welfare deal, said the leadership issue is not affecting her work.
“First Nations go through turbulent times at times, but I know we’ve been through a lot historically and I think this work is so important that it will continue to move forward.”
With files from Sarah Ritchie.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on July 5, 2022.