Youth council calls out chief 'squabbles' over national chief suspension

Day two of the Assembly of First Nations annual general assembly is underway in Vancouver.

Chiefs to vote on outstanding resolutions surrounding RoseAnne Archibald

Rosalie LaBillois, co-chair of the AFN National Youth Council, speaks at the annual general assembly Wednesday in Vancouver. (CBC)

Rosalie LaBillois didn't mince words as she addressed First Nations leaders gathered in Vancouver for the second day of the Assembly of First Nations annual general assembly, Wednesday.

The day began with reports from the AFN's veterans council, women's council, and youth council.

LaBillois, a co-chair of the youth council, said she was deeply concerned about the actions of some leaders at the assembly a day prior.

"The AFN walked out yesterday when a resolution was put forward that didn't pertain to the drama of the day, and refused to stay for the issues that continue to plague one of our communities in this room," said LaBillois, who is Mi'kmaw from Eel River Bar in New Brunswick and Listuguj in Quebec.

A politician rises with her hands in the air.
Assembly of First Nations National Chief RoseAnne Archibald following the results of a vote on an emergency resolution that looked to continue her suspension on July 5. A total of 252 First Nations chiefs and proxies voted against the resolution, while 44 voted in favour. (Andrew Lee/CBC)

On Tuesday, chiefs and proxies spent most of the afternoon discussing an emergency resolution related to National Chief RoseAnne Archibald's suspension. 

A total of 252 First Nations chiefs and proxies gathered voted against the resolution to continue Archibald's suspension. There were 44 chiefs and proxies who voted in favour, along with 26 abstentions.

Co-chair Wina Sioui begins the second day of the AFN's annual general assembly on Wednesday. (Ka’nhehsí:io Deer/CBC)

The majority of the crowd left following the results of the resolution, as the family of Frank Young addressed the assembly. The five-year-old went missing in April from his home at Red Earth Cree Nation in Saskatchewan.

"When our youth council has seen a room of empty chairs to support him, our hearts were broken," said LaBillois.

She pleaded to chiefs and the public to remember Young and all of the other missing First Nations children.

"Every time you decide to squabble amongst yourselves, you forget the children and young people that you once swore to protect," said LaBillois.

Archibald's suspension was the subject of three emergency draft resolutions to be brought forward at the assembly Tuesday. Only one was addressed before the day concluded. 

The other two emergency draft resolutions were pushed to Wednesday. However, Chief Harley Chingee of the McLeod Lake Indian Band told CBC News that he is dropping the non-confidence resolution.

Harley Chingee is chief of the McLeod Lake Indian Band. (Ka’nhehsí:io Deer/CBC)

"I didn't want to waste people's time debating this issue," he said.

"There's an internal investigation going on right now with the national chief and the HR department. We'll let the investigation run its course and wait for the report to come out this summer. Once we get that, I think we'll put the resolution back on the floor at the December meeting in Ottawa."

The other emergency resolution, moved by chief Wendy Jocko of Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation, Ont., calls for Archibald's AFN email, phone and other benefits be re-activated immediately, as well as for the national chief and executive committee to work together to "heal the relationships" between the two.

The resolution was tabled until Thursday. 

Arthur Noskey is Grand Chief of Treaty 8 in Alberta. (Ka’nhehsí:io Deer/CBC)

Grand Chief of Treaty 8 Arthur Noskey is calling for a forensic audit of the AFN over concerns about the fiscal relationship between the AFN and Canada undermining treaty rights.

"Actions speak louder than words," Noskey told reporters outside of the assembly.

"There are issues plaguing the Assembly of First Nations organization. We agree that this administration non-profit organization should undergo a full audit but their partner — Canada — should undergo an audit as well."

He said the top two priorities under the treaties are education and health care. 

WATCH | Youth council says leadership squabbles overshadow important issues at AFN: 

AFN national chief keeps job after beating 2nd leadership vote

1 year ago
Duration 2:03
AFN National Chief RoseAnne Archibald emerges victorious, beating off a second vote to oust her at the organization’s annual general assembly. But the AFN’s youth council raised concerns that the leadership squabble is overshadowing more important issues.

"With this organization, AFN, Canada negotiates with them as to how much program dollars comes into a region. Now the sovereign leaders, chiefs, are fighting over how much should go their nation. That's not a treaty-based process," said Noskey.

A slew of other resolutions were scheduled to be discussed and voted on Wednesday, including ones that address housing, a call for a national inquiry into the Sixties Scoop, and residential schools, although few were addressed due to time constraints. 

Plenaries will also take place on the recent First Nations Child and Family Services and Jordan's Principle Class Action settlement announcement, First Nations policing as a essential service legislation, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act national action plan.


Ka’nhehsí:io Deer is a Kanien’kehá:ka journalist from Kahnawà:ke, south of Montreal. She is currently a reporter with CBC Indigenous covering communities across Quebec.