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Assembly of First Nations National Chief RoseAnne Archibald speaks during the AFN annual general meeting in Vancouver on July 5.DARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press

Assembly of First Nations National Chief RoseAnne Archibald avoided efforts to topple her leadership this week at the AFN’s annual general assembly, after her suspension last month by the organization’s executive committee. An emergency draft resolution that called for her removal was pulled by its authors on Wednesday and will not be voted on.

Chiefs from across Canada voted Tuesday against the National Chief’s continued suspension, but that did not immediately bring clarity over whether Ms. Archibald’s suspension is considered lifted by the executive committee. Discussions began on Wednesday over a resolution supporting the National Chief’s call for a forensic audit of the AFN, as well as demanding an end to her suspension, but a vote was delayed until Thursday.

After Tuesday’s vote, Ms. Archibald welcomed the results, adding “I need my phone back. I need my e-mails back. I need to be reinstated fully.”

Amid debate over the National Chief’s suspension, questions over governance have been raised throughout the assembly.

“[Governance] is the way in which we take care of the things that matter most to us,” said Khelsilem, chairperson of the Squamish Nation in British Columbia, who put forward a draft resolution to conduct a review of the AFN’s governance. “The governance review really speaks to very simple questions around what’s not working, what are ideas to fix it, and then some recommendations can come forward.”

His resolution passed late on Wednesday afternoon.

Several draft resolutions have been put forward at the assembly related to the AFN’s governance and internal structures. But leaders also stressed that this comes as part of a wider conversation about the role of the AFN – and what communities expect from it as an advocacy body for hundreds of First Nations across Canada.

Khelsilem’s resolution calls for the AFN Chiefs’ Committee on Charter Renewal to lead a governance review, and touches on specific issues such as a lack of clear policies on meeting minutes and in-camera meetings. It also makes a suggestion to resolve quorum issues in chiefs committees, which are bodies of chiefs who lead work on specific subjects.

“The AFN has a structure that we’ve inherited for 40 years – that is not serving us anymore,” he said. “It was built at a time when the level of complexity of the work was much smaller than it is now.”

Khelsilem, who goes by one name, also addressed concerns some have over governance issues within the AFN becoming public, emphasizing that non-Indigenous leaders have long dealt with issues of their own around transparency and governance.

“This fear that people are going to view us as less as a result of this, if they are, that’s actually not our issue, that’s their issue, because the reality is this happens everywhere,” he said. “That’s their issue with how they view Indigenous people.”

Other resolutions considered the role of an AFN body known as the Confederacy of Nations, which has been mostly inactive for years, but is meant to provide oversight of the National Chief and Regional Chiefs in between assemblies.

“We did meet, we can meet, and we will meet again,” said Batchewana First Nation Chief Dean Sayers, who put forward a motion to maintain the body. “We maybe will get more structured after what’s happened recently ... it’s going to be perceived as a necessity.”

Mr. Sayers said the suspension of Ms. Archibald by the AFN’s executive committee was the type of decision that should have been brought before the Confederacy of Nations, if it had been sitting.

“It should have compelled the Regional Chiefs to say, ‘we’re considering this, but let me get back to you ... I want to talk to the Confederacy and see if this is aligned with the expectations that the chiefs may have,’ ” he said.

Leading into the assembly, two contradictory resolutions were penned on the body’s fate: one, which was moved by Abegweit First Nation Chief Roderick Gould, called for it to be dissolved, while Mr. Sayers’s resolution called for it to be maintained. On Tuesday, both agreed to pull the resolutions and work together to come up with a proposal for a modernized oversight body.

The Confederacy of Nations was designed to be made up of chiefs each representing 10,000 First Nations members, though Mr. Sayers said the representation model must be revisited and that discussions will continue.

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