Chiefs at the highest level of the Assembly of First Nations have decided to proceed with a full investigation into allegations of harassment and bullying levelled at Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald.
AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde said Friday that the AFN executive committee, compromised of regional chiefs, “voted unanimously to proceed with a full investigation into allegations of harassment and bullying made by multiple AFN employees” against Ms. Archibald.
“An independent external investigator will be retained for this purpose,” he said in a statement.
Mr. Bellegarde also said the AFN has policies and procedures to ensure that its employees are treated with respect and professionalism.
“Harassment and verbal abuse is unacceptable in any workplace,” he said. The AFN is committed to ensuring a respectful, congenial, creative and productive environment in which employees can thrive.”
Ms. Archibald has said she believes she is being targeted for her campaign for more accountability at the AFN. In a statement, she said Friday that she has been advised the AFN executive has decided that there will be an investigation into the allegations “which I welcome.”
“I am pleased that my colleagues on the Executive Committee have recognized the importance of having an independent and fair investigation into these allegations by an impartial investigator,” she said.
“I look forward to participating in a fair and independent process. Finally, my resolve to have full transparency and financial accountability at the AFN will remain at the forefront of my efforts in the coming days and weeks.”
On Thursday, The Globe and Mail reported that a preliminary probe commissioned by the Assembly of First Nations into accusations of harassment against Ms. RoseAnne Archibald found “allegations and evidence to be credible” and merit a full investigation.
A copy of a Feb. 12 briefing report for the executive committee of the AFN discussed allegations brought forward by four people who say they were harassed by Ms. Archibald as well as “evidence of harassment of other staff.”
Ms. Archibald said Thursday it is unfortunate a confidential AFN executive committee matter has been “leaked to the media by unknown parties.”
She said she was first alerted to harassment allegations against her when Mr. Bellegarde and legal counsel Peter Mantas called her on Feb. 5.
Ms. Archibald said she immediately raised the timing of the harassment allegations with Mr. Bellegarde that day, telling him they “appeared to be reprisal” in response to a confidential Chiefs of Ontario (COO) resolution passed the day prior.
The Chiefs of Ontario is a political forum and a secretariat that advocates for 133 First Nation communities in the province. Ms. Archibald, as Ontario Regional Chief, is part of its political office.
“The Chiefs of Ontario resolution seeks an independent financial review of the Assembly of First Nations,” she said. “I have become a target of the National Chief and the Assembly of First Nations Secretariat because I have documents that show financial improprieties within the Assembly of First Nations.”
Mr. Bellegarde said late Thursday evening that numerous harassment complaints made by AFN staff against Ms. Archibald span months and are unrelated to the COO resolution.
“Only after I alerted the AFN executive about complaints of harassment, I was made aware of the contents in the COO resolution,” he said.
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