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AFN national chief calls for external probe into years of alleged corruption

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WATCH: Newly-elected national chief of the Assembly of First Nations addresses controversies – Jul 10, 2021

The national chief of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is calling for a forensic audit and independent inquiry into the assembly’s alleged corruption and “toxicity.”

RoseAnne Archibald said in a statement Thursday that she has been “undermined, discredited and attacked” in her efforts to clean up the organization, which she accused of mounting “smear campaigns” in order to silence her.

The chief said she wants the external investigation to look into the assembly’s conduct over the last eight years. She did not specify who should lead such an inquiry.

“I believe this investigation will help to identify the toxicity within our organization and bring about healing and a cultural shift that is critically needed,” she said.

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Archibald was elected as the assembly’s first-ever female national chief last July.

At the time of her election, she was already facing an investigation into allegations of harassment and bullying from her time as Ontario regional chief. She said then that the probe, which has since been resolved, was due to her vocal allegations that women and 2SLGBTQ+ members of the organization were facing harassment and bullying.

Thursday’s statement alluded to a second “smear campaign” against her but did not provide any details about the allegations she’s currently facing.

Aaron Detlor, Archibald’s legal council, told Global News the latest allegations are similar to what she faced previously. He added the claims against the chief cannot be verified as they have been “leaked” anonymously to the public.

Global News has reached out to the AFN for a response to Archibald’s claims.

Read more: AFN elects RoseAnne Archibald as first ever woman national chief

Archibald says she had “never … in 33 years (had) an HR complaint launched against me,” which Detlor said referred to a complaint that has been filed within the past two weeks alleging harassment and bullying.

Archibald denies all of the allegations against her, calling them an example of “the toxic pattern at the AFN.”

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She said any new investigation would go beyond an internal probe that is already underway into alleged contract payouts to members of the AFN executive committee, which she said totalled over $1 million.

Her statement also includes allegations of “backroom deals, the large payouts to staff, and other documented incidents of corruption and collusion.” She said that activity distracts from the AFN’s goal to advocate for Indigenous rights in Canada.

Archibald has been a vocal critic of the way the AFN has been run in the past, including alleged discrimination against women holding leadership positions and financial wrongdoing.

She promised in her election campaign that she would create a more transparent, welcoming institution, and establish a whistleblower policy.

— With files from the Canadian Press

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