43rd Annual Assembly of First Nations
Vancouver, BC – History was made during the first day of a three day scheduled agenda at the Assembly of First Nations 43rd Annual General Gathering, on the territory of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh peoples in Vancouver, B.C.
1. After a whole day of needed words that many of our Chiefs and people across Turtle Island spoke of the ongoing concerns and Resolution #3 Temporarily suspend the National Chief from her role and functions as National Chief under the AFN Charter was defeated.
The National Chief, Roseanne Archibald, was duly elected on July 8th, 2021. It was rumoured that the first woman National Chief Archibald being uninvited, she held her head high walking into the Assembly revealing the true reason why she was placed under suspension by the Executive Committee of Regional Chiefs.
These are her inspiring, empowering words
“Thank you Chiefs again for your work, for your energy, for your time.
I want to start with one of my favorite quotes the truth is like a lion you don’t have to defend it set it free and it will defend itself and that’s what we’re going to talk about today is the truth the truth of what is happening at the AFN. Many of you know me especially in Ontario.
I am relentless in my pursuit of truth and let me assure you that the struggle for transparency, accountability, and truth is an honourable and worthy cause. It’s good to be here standing in front of you as the duly elected national chief as Aaron just explained I am not suspended.
Regional Chiefs do not have the authority to suspend a National Chief.
That’s why they’re bringing tai land working backwards to bring you this motion number three because they’re trying to cover their tracks of the mistakes they made.
Why did they attempt to suspend me? Because I told the truth about the corruption at the AFN they don’t want you to know the truth they don’t want me to talk directly to you but I am obligated to talk to you under the charter.
I have a sacred moral obligation to speak the truth the AFN secretariat, and the regional chiefs, and the National Indian Brotherhood corporation as Chief prosper talked about is a colonial structure. it follows non-Indigenous laws.
It’s not grounded in our culture it’s not grounded in our values.
It’s not grounded in our traditions, it is a non-Indigenous corporation and Chiefs that’s why I came forward.
The current structure is a threat, it is a danger that’s my oath that I am here to tell you about the dangers and threats to your sovereignty, to your jurisdiction, to your rights, to the survival of your communities and as it stands now the National Indian rotherhood corporation is a threat to all of those things.
How many of your regional chiefs shared full disclosure, full disclosure with you all the facts i don’t think very many they’re hiding being told to hide behind legal threats.
There’s a legal boogeyman in this room, and that’s always held over our heads as AFN executive but I know that my obligation is an ethical one, that I have a sacred responsibility above all else above the non-indigenous laws of this country
We have natural laws given to us by the creator, these natural laws are our sacred responsibility to take care of these lands that the creator places on to protect our way of life our self-determination our self-government. This flows from the creator, this is our highest obligation our highest obligation is not to protect the National Indian Brotherhood Corporation.
I really appreciated what Regional Chief Prosper said about love that he loves me but you know what’s happening lateral violence, colonial lateral violence against me and by extension all of you as chiefs because you put me here.
I am your representative, I am your servant, I only exist because all of you put me in this position, so an attack on me is an attack on you.
The regional chiefs have usurped your authority.
It is your authority to determine what happens to the national chief.
You elected me, not the regional chiefs. You determine what discipline I face not the regional chiefs
It’s time for you chiefs to take the AFN back. Assert yourselves as chiefs.
I know you work hard in your communities.
I know that you love the people we suffer sometimes because of our love people attack us but that doesn’t ever diminish the love we have and the service we feel to our people and I know all of you feel that in your hearts.
You feel that love and care it’s why you’re sitting here today. It’s why you’re sitting on council it’s why you chose this path forward to lift up people to help them to help them move forward in life in a good way and I said earlier I believe it is your deep and abiding love and care that underlies all of your work because I know it underlies mine and as you look at me as the first woman national chief undergoing this kind of lateral violence you must call upon this love that you have for your wives, your daughters, your granddaughters, your mothers, your aunties. You must call upon that love and this lateral violence will stop.
I have always stood for transparency, accountability, and truth always.
Duncan Miciano is in this room. Chief Duncan Meshano in 1989 I was hired as a band manager and we cleaned the organization we healed it and today they’re one of the best run communities in Canada and I did a small part of that everybody knows this long history I have these 33 years of commitment to ethical, moral, spiritual work I recognize that.
As the first woman leader as someone who has broken the glass ceiling five times, the glass ceiling I’ve always walked with a different style of leadership but it’s always called for the same thing which is transformative and positive change and that’s what we need at the AFN.
We need to heal the AFN following decades where there have been decades of calls for reform. Decades, and that has been met with resistance and in my case retaliation the reason we’re here today and the reason I’m giving this speech is because I refused to give one million dollars plus to staff in a staff payout.
I knew it was wrong.
This funding that I am entrusted with is meant to help you all of your communities, all of your citizens.
I can’t hand a million dollars to four people. I can’t do it it’s meant for you so we have come to a crossroads in our history or as I like to say herstory.
Because we recognize that underlying all of this also is intergenerational trauma, colonial violence, that we have been subject to through these institutions of assimilation and genocide that’s what’s playing out here too inter-generational trauma.
This is the healing that we need this is our moment this is our pivotal point this is the time that we can begin to turn and move toward healing and healthiness,
Yesterday the executive talked about their press release. You know but we need to move forward once we finish this discussion, we need to go back to our agenda there are items that we need to move forward on, and we can’t spend another minute in this turmoil.
Aaron explained that we had to go to court I was forced. I did not want to go o a non-Indigenous court but I knew that they could not stop me from attending this meeting I knew it was unlawful and I knew it was unlawful, that they attempted to suspend me.
Our theme has been mentioned many times walking the healing path for the last year I’ve been talking about the healing path forward.
I don’t know if anybody’s ever had a wound sometimes you gotta like open that up and let that puss run out and then you gotta clean it, and then you got to heal it and sometimes that’s painful and sometimes that’s difficult.
Healing is not kumbaya, healing is work and we must do that work together not only for the AFN, but for the people who are watching this, all the citizens who deserve clean drinking water, who deserve a good house to live in, who deserve schools that they can proudly send their children to.
That’s what we’re healing and everybody is looking to us in this moment. You know this is being called the biggest crisis in the 40-year history of the AFN, but I don’t see it as a crisis.
I see it as a great opportunity. It is a great opportunity for us to clean the AFN, and heal it, we’re on the right track chiefs, make no mistake about it focus only on the facts I was not suspended because of an hr investigation, I was suspended because I talked to the chiefs in Ontario in an in-camera session, and told them about my concerns that are four years old.
They’re not from April, May, June, they’re from four years ago and somebody recorded that in-camera session, and somebody shared that to the media and that’s when things went sideways so I’m not suspended because of an human resources investigation.
I am suspended because I am speaking the truth and when I think about the things that I’ve called for they’re reasonable. I sent you chiefs information about bank transfers, about questionable contracts.
I sent you this information there’s lots in the AFN that’s hidden.
You can hide it in an audit by directing your auditor to look at transactions that are innocuour and hide the other ones.
These things are hidden we need a forensic audit in just two areas: staff payouts and contracts, millions of dollars have been paid in staff payouts, millions. That’s what the forensic audit will show you you will see how money that is meant for you and your communities has been going into somebody else’s pocket. We must have the forensic audit this independent investigation is very important as well think about what’s happening to me, media leaks stories, one-sided stories being touted in the news who’s sending that information why are they sending that information.
Why am I under attack? These are questions that you deserve an answer too, and that’s what this independent investigation will show us. It will show us the toxicity that we must root out of this organization.
It will show us where we need to heal it will show us solutions out of this situation that has been building up or decades corruption at the AFN that’s not a recent story that is one of the most widely known secrets in Indian country.
You all know that so I do have a plan.
I do have a path out of this: We need to establish a new corporation based in our culture and values based in our seven sacred teachings and that corporation will create a construct for staff to be healthy safe and have a work environment where they will celebrate going to. Right now there’s so much fear in the AFN, and it predated me believe you.
So I think I want to tell you what Buckminster Fuller said you never change things by fighting the existing reality to change something build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.
That’s our path forward.
We need a new model.
My vision is to honor what the regional chiefs are calling for if they want to sit as administrative Chiefs on a corporation that is grounded in colonial laws then let them.
We need a leadership council a political leadership council, I want it to be those regional chiefs I’ve asked them.
Regional Chief Woodhouse said to me I don’t want to be on your leadership council, he said that to me in a meeting who will be on the leadership council then if it isn’t regional chiefs.
Well the path forward is let’s set up a chief’s leadership council so you can take back this organization and we can transfer all of those staff that are in that toxic environment at the AFN secretariat into a healthy corporation grounded in our culture.
Our new AFN will exist to do several things create a national space where First Nations can participate in a forum to engage in dialogue and make decisions on your shared goals to facilitate the reclamation, revitalization and evolution of what I’m calling an international political structure nations that you all are made out of not individual bands, but nations that’s who you really are don’t ever let this colonial structure convince you that you are one chief of a small band you are a part of nations and our nations made treaties our sovereignty our inherent rights given to us by the creator made treaties nations made treaties we are nations.
So I ask you to stand with me in this positive vision of the future. Stand with me in my deep and abiding love and care for you and your citizens.
Let’s walk out of this cleansed together!
This suspension is unlawful so when that resolution hits the floor it should not hit the floor when you support me, you will be supporting your own fights. I know many of you have told me stories about your own struggles against corruption in your own communities you know chiefs every day you’re subject to lateral violence many of you sometimes really difficult situations so when you support me you will be fighting against corruption.
Not only in the AFN but everywhere when you support me you will be saying no to lateral violence and yes to lateral kindness so I ask you to support the resolution that i’m going to give some time to chief Jocko to speak to which is we need a forensic audit we need an independent investigation.
I want you to know that i am a warrior. A warrior for peace a warrior for love. that’s who I am.”