The Assembly of First Nations moved to oust RoseAnne Archibald as its national chief on Wednesday, after more than a year of turmoil involving her leadership of the advocacy organization.
A vote to remove her from the role took place during a special chiefs assembly convened to discuss the implications of a human resources investigation into complaints that AFN staff had filed against Archibald.
The resolution to oust her as national chief, just over two years after she became the first woman to serve in the role, passed with support from 71 per cent of the 231 chiefs who took part in the virtual meeting.
“We look forward to getting back to the important work of advancing First Nations priorities and acting on behalf of the best interests of our communities,” Paul Prosper, the AFN regional chief for Nova Scotia, said in a written statement. “We extend our best wishes to RoseAnne Archibald in her future endeavours.”
The AFN says the top post will be vacant until an interim national chief is selected from the executive committee, and that an election is set to take place during a special chiefs assembly in December.
Archibald could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.
The turbulence at the national organization, which serves as the voice for more than 600 First Nations, involves third-party investigations into five complaints filed against Archibald by AFN staff.
The preamble to a draft version of the resolution that passed on Wednesday, which the AFN posted online along with an agenda for the closed-door meeting, said the investigators had given five reports to the executive committee in April. It said investigators found Archibald to have “breached confidentiality requirements.”
The preamble also said that Archibald had then posted on social media that she had been “vindicated” by the reports, which it alleges meant she was “misrepresenting” their findings.
“By stating that she was ‘vindicated’ the national chief appears to be minimizing her wrongdoing and failing to take accountability for her actions,” the preamble said.
The infighting at the AFN played out in public last July at a gathering in Vancouver, when Archibald showed up despite having been temporarily suspended.
After chiefs voted down an emergency resolution to affirm her suspension, Archibald expressed her gratitude, alleging she was unfairly suspended because she had been trying to investigate corruption within the assembly.
Canada’s premiers are expected to meet national Indigenous leaders on July 10 ahead of their summer meeting in Winnipeg. The AFN is scheduled to hold its annual general meeting in Halifax from July 11 to 13.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked earlier Wednesday about the potential for Archibald to be removed as leader of the AFN, but he suggested it would be inappropriate for him to comment.
“One of the colonial principles that it is so important for governments to do away with is the idea that we should have opinions or even public positioning on how Indigenous communities, First Nations people, choose to govern themselves,” he said during a news conference in Mississauga, Ont.
“Our responsibility is to be there as partners in the path forward,” he said.
“I can assure you that this government will always be there to work with the Assembly of First Nations and their leadership regardless of … who wins or who does what within that leadership.”