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AFN to undergo financial review with RoseAnne Archibald remaining national chief

Click to play video: 'Assembly of First Nation’s financial forensic audit goes ahead' Assembly of First Nation’s financial forensic audit goes ahead
WATCH: Assembly of First Nation’s financial forensic audit goes ahead – Jul 7, 2022

The Assembly of First Nations will undergo a review of its financial policies and practices with National Chief RoseAnne Archibald remaining at the helm of the organization after a Thursday vote.

More than 140 chiefs and proxies passed the resolution at the AFN’s annual general assembly in Vancouver. The text was revised several times over three days, having sparked fierce debate among delegates.

Click to play video: 'Assembly of First Nations: Financial, leadership issues overshadow pressing concerns' Assembly of First Nations: Financial, leadership issues overshadow pressing concerns
Assembly of First Nations: Financial, leadership issues overshadow pressing concerns – Jul 7, 2022

The review will examine how contracts are awarded within the organization as well as conflict of interest concerns, and make recommendations on strengthening transparency and accountability.

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Archibald applauded when the resolution passed with 75 per cent of the votes.

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“I’m very relieved that the truth has come up, that it’s being honoured, it’s being heard, and to me that’s more important than any personal feelings I might have on the situation,” Archibald said.

“I believe that this situation unfolded in the perfect way that it was supposed to and as a result we’re going to see positive changes.”

Click to play video: 'Youth delegates call on AFN leaders to stop fighting' Youth delegates call on AFN leaders to stop fighting
Youth delegates call on AFN leaders to stop fighting – Jul 6, 2022

Archibald made the comments in an interview Wednesday after a resolution to hold a non-confidence vote on her leadership was withdrawn.

Earlier this month, the AFN’s executive committee and national board of directors unlawfully suspended Archibald, blocking her phone and email access while a human resources investigation into four workplace harassment complaints against her got underway.

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Read more: ‘The truth will be told’: AFN national chief leads procession into annual general assembly

Archibald claims the upset staffers had demanded more than $1 million in payouts, which she refused to provide. Prior to her suspension, she had publicly alleged corruption is rife within the AFN, describing various “financial irregularities,” “backroom deals,” and efforts to silence her disclosure of them.

According to a briefing note from lawyers to the executive committee, she also published confidential information about AFN’s contactors and the value of several contracts, last month.

Click to play video: 'Archibald calls for forensic audit, urges AFN to move forward from her suspension' Archibald calls for forensic audit, urges AFN to move forward from her suspension
Archibald calls for forensic audit, urges AFN to move forward from her suspension – Jul 5, 2022

Thursday’s resolution directs the AFN’s Chiefs’ Committee on Charter Reform to hire an independent third party and, if necessary, order a forensic audit into the past decade of the organization’s financial activity, with particular attention to staff salaries, payouts and contracts.

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It would also include a digital investigation into alleged breaches of communication.

The Chiefs’ Committee on Charter Renewal will return to the First Nations of the assembly with a report by the end of the 2022 fiscal year.

Read more: First Nations chiefs reject continued suspension of AFN national chief

Meanwhile, the resolution directs the executive and Archibald to begin a process of healing and reconciliation guided by First Nations customs, and informed by AFN councils.

Both the national chief and executive will participate, in good faith, in the independent investigation into the workplace complaints lodged against her, and have been directed not to speak with media until the process is completed and has been shared with the Chiefs-in-Assembly.

Click to play video: 'AFN members end national chief’s temporary suspension' AFN members end national chief’s temporary suspension
AFN members end national chief’s temporary suspension – Jul 5, 2022

The resolution identified a “problem” within the AFN that has caused “serious reputational harm” to the organization. In her Wednesday comments, however, Archibald said she views the past month as having created an “opportunity for change.”

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“We have a number of resolutions that we put forward to the chiefs before the controversy, so we’re going to follow those up and do the work that we always intended to do,” she told Global News.

“We really need to work on the healing and repairing those relationships within the AFN executive, and we’re going to look to our elders an knowledge keepers to help us to do that.”

Read more: AFN general assembly gets underway amid controversy over national chief’s suspension

The Chiefs’ Committee on Charter Renewal has been directed to identify resources to fully implement a previous AFN resolution to become a role model in ending discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation, while an independent investigation into a climate of “toxicity, bullying and lateral violence” within the AFN takes place.

Chief Vernon Saddleback of the Samson Cree Nation in Alberta, meanwhile, called on Archibald to apologize for the women harmed when she published the contractor information in June.

“Two of my band members were on that list and they were female,” he told the assembly crowd on Thursday. “They did nothing but honest work for AFN.”

Click to play video: '‘We need to heal the AFN’: Archibald speaks about need for reform' ‘We need to heal the AFN’: Archibald speaks about need for reform
‘We need to heal the AFN’: Archibald speaks about need for reform – Jul 5, 2022

Fifty chiefs and proxies voted against Thursday’s resolution and 18 abstained.

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After the vote, Chief Brent Bissaillion of the Serpent River First Nation in northern Ontario stood at the microphone to express “deep dissatisfaction” with the amount of fighting that has taken place over the past three days.

“Our youth have called out this assembly for inaction, and the last few days have been mired in drama and ego,” he said before the crowd. “To my community and to other communities, I want to apologize for this assembly. To our elders, our youth and the next generation, we have failed you. We must do better and we can do better.”

Bisaillion and the Serpent River team suspended its participation in the assembly on Thursday to home where they are needed, and discuss their goals and path forward.

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