The Assembly of First Nations has ordered the suspension of its National Chief RoseAnne Archibald, citing inflammatory remarks they said the chief made in a press release Thursday.
The ouster comes after Ms. Archibald alleged that four staff were attempting to smear her to cover up wrongdoing within the organization.
The AFN, a national advocacy organization for Indigenous people in Canada, said its executive committee and board of directors voted to suspend Ms. Archibald with pay as a result of her comments. It added she is barred from attending the organization’s upcoming assemblies in July.
The organization said it is opening an investigation into four complaints made against her.
“It is regrettable that we had to take this severe action but we had no other choice,” said Regional Chief Paul Prosper, an AFN spokesperson, in a statement. “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.”
In an interview, Mr. Prosper declined to discuss the investigation and details of the allegations made against Ms. Archibald. The AFN has said her comments against the organization breached its whistleblower policy and was contrary to the national chief’s oath of office.
Mr. Prosper said Ms. Archibald’s comments on Thursday immediately sparked “considerable dialogue” within the organization that led to her suspension. He added a final decision on her future would be made after receiving the results of the probe.
“These are tough decisions, but we have to really take into account the best interests of the organization. We’re duty bound to do that,” said Mr. Prosper.
In Ms. Archibald’s statement on Thursday, she accused two regional chiefs and the AFN Secretariat of launching an investigation into her conduct in an effort to focus on internal battles rather than to address alleged corruption within the organization.
She also suggested the complaints against her were in retaliation for her attempt to uncover alleged wrongdoing and she called for a forensic audit of the organization.
In a statement on Friday, Ms. Archibald said she will not back down from her statements.
“What is happening is wrong, but it’s not about me,” wrote Ms. Archibald, who called for an investigation of her own into the AFN’s conduct as an organization.
“It’s a manufactured distraction from my repeated calls to investigate the past eight years of wrongdoing within the AFN.”
It is not the first time allegations of wrongdoing have been levelled against Ms. Archibald. Last year, a report by an investigator examined multiple allegations that she harassed staff when she was the regional Ontario chief, with five unnamed complainants saying they were worried about being targeted or attacked by the chief, either directly or in public through social media.
The report did not detail the allegations or draw conclusions on their merit. Ms. Archibald did not comment on the report at the time.
The AFN said Ms. Archibald has been ordered not to speak of the ongoing investigation.
Ms. Archibald could not be immediately reached for comment. Aaron Detler, one of Ms. Archibald’s lawyers, said Ms. Archibald was currently considering her next actions, saying the suspended national chief still felt an obligation to “advance transparency and accountability” within the AFN.
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