Internal conflict dominates AFN General Assembly for second straight day

For the second consecutive day, emergency resolutions related to a conflict between the Assembly of First Nations National Chief and the organization’s executive council threw the agenda into chaos.

A potential outside audit into the AFN’s finances and management practices remains up in the air after an emergency resolution calling for one was punted for the second day in a row.

The motion was originally on the agenda for 11 a.m. Tuesday, then moved to Wednesday morning. Delegates finally began debating it Wednesday afternoon.

Many amendments had been made to the original resolution, and by the time debate began, very few people in the room had an updated copy.

After a brief recess, the decision was made to table the resolution until Thursday morning, when debate is expected to continue, followed by a vote.

“We have to have competent and skilled financial management,” said Doug Kelly, of British Columbia’s Sto:Lo Tribal Council. “If there’s any question whatsoever about that competency or integrity, then we need to address it.”

Elected National Chief Roseanne Archibald has levelled allegations of widespread corruption, and ran on a campaign to reform the AFN from within.

Another emergency resolution calling for vote of non-confidence in Archibald was withdrawn.

Archibald easily won a vote Tuesday on an emergency resolution calling for an affirmation of the suspension she had been under since June 17 over allegations of workplace bullying.

Much of the first two days of the annual meeting has been devoted to the conflict between Archibald and the AFN’s executive council, leaving little time for chiefs and proxies who travelled from around the country to debate serious issues on the agenda, including child welfare, health and education.

“Sometimes it happens where we get focused on differences, and not what we share in common,” Kelly said.

More than one delegation used its time at the podium to decry the amount of time and resources devoted to the emergency resolutions and not the 48 draft resolutions that pertain to many of the serious issues Indigenous communities across the country are dealing with.

Rosalie LaBillois of the AFN National Youth Council was in tears as she urged those in attendance to focus more attention on the issue of child welfare.

“Remember all the missing First Nations children out there who are waiting to come home,” she said. “Every time you decide to squabble amongst yourselves, you forget the children and the young people that you once swore to protect.”