AFN Chief RoseAnne Archibald Is a True Canadian Hero

Canada is flush with “leaders”: political leaders; community leaders; protest leaders; charity leaders; religious leaders … and, of course, indigenous leaders.

They all push agendas that will benefit their base, their closest supporters and, quite often, their friends, their families … and almost without exception … themselves.

And rarely do they turn out to be heroes.

Chief RoseAnne Archibald of the Assembly of First Nations is an exception.

She is, in my view, not only a First Nations hero, but a true Canadian hero … from coast to coast to coast.

At only 23 years old, Archibald was elected in 1990 as Chief of the Taykwa Tagamou Cree Nation … the first woman and the youngest band member to ever hold that post. She went on to become a Regional Grand Chief in 1994 and was elected National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations in 2021.

(You can read Archibald’s full Wikipedia biography here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RoseAnne_Archibald.)

Chief Archibald could have just done what so many other Canadian “leaders” … and First Nations leaders … do so often: enjoy the pay, the perks, the privileges, the pensions and the prestige of their positions, pushing their partisan agendas, rewarding their closest supporters, their friends and sometimes their family … and all their relations.

Not Archibald.

With her 31 years of experience in First Nations politics, Archibald spotted things at the AFN … financial issues … that raised concerns big enough for her to call for a full fiscal audit and independent inquiry of AFN operations going back 8 years!!!

What a GREAT story (or multiple stories) could be done if Canada’s “national” media stopped being patsies, fawning and pandering over First Nations’ activists’ demands for just more and more federal money and actually talked to ordinary band members about THEIR concerns over how past monies have been spent on many reserves; and, delved DEEPLY into AFN Chief Archibald’s concerns about where/how previous AFN funds have actually been spent … or misspent!

I suspect there are MANY band members right across the country who would like to see those AFN audits/investigations carried out … and probably quite a few as well on their own reserves!

Especially in light of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s REALLY DUMB move that did away with rules introduced by PM Stephen Harper pushing bands to open their books:

“At the end of 2015, the Liberal government suspended a provision that allowed Ottawa to withhold federal funds for any band that failed to publish audited financial statements and a statement listing how much its chief and band councillors were paid,” the National Post reported.

And surprise, surprise! After Trudeau’s retreat, fewer bands have been allowing their own members (or the Canadian public) to see where they spend their federal funding. https://nationalpost.com/news/politics/first-nations-fiscal-accountability-dropped-after-liberals-cut-enforcement-measure-at-end-of-2015.

And how did the AFN’s executive committee and national board of directors respond to Chief Archibald’s concerns and call for a fiscal investigation?

They suspended her from her position, ostensibly for “bullying and harrassing”four AFN staff members …. who Archibald says unsuccessfully “tried to secure $1 million in contract payouts.”

Archibald called her suspension a “manufactured distraction”, an illegal action and challenged it at the AFN’s annual convention.

She won.

A resolution that would have ratified her suspension was withdrawn … and, in a tremendous vote of confidence in the AFN Chief, when the fiscal audit question came up “more than 140 chiefs and proxies passed the resolution at the AFN’s annual general assembly in Vancouver.” (Global News).

That was 75% of all the votes cast! Backing Chief Archibald’s call for fiscal accountability!

Canada needs more “leaders” like Chief RoseAnne Archibald … who, instead of just pushing their own partisan policies and feathering their own nests, stand up against possible misuse of public funds, nepotism and/or corruption.

Chief Archibald really is a First Nations … and Canadian hero.

Can hardly wait to see what the AFN fiscal audit and independent inquiry find.

And if the national media asked band members, I wouldn’t be surprised if many suggested a good place to start might be the travel/expense accounts and contracts/spending authorized by those who voted to suspend the AFN Chief and against any financial audit.

Harv Oberfeld

(Follow @harveyoberfeld on Twitter for FREE First Alerts to all new postings on this BC-based Blog.)

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7 Responses to AFN Chief RoseAnne Archibald Is a True Canadian Hero

  1. D. M. Johnston says:

    Yes, I watched this mini drama play out on the TV and felt that she was being railroaded. Sadly, the spectre of of the residential schools over shadowed her and I was wondering if it was by design.

    The entire murky politic of the First Nations issues is overshadowed by the residential school and forgotten graves issue.

    Yes, forgotten graves as one Terry Glavin, has put a spotlight on that issue and how it has been manipulated to such a degree that the truth is now so flexible it will fit many politcal agendas.

    Sadly, the issue is now akin to a Canadian version of “Dane Geld”, where a few nights of media coverage of wailing ladies and drum beating and Trudeau cuts another cheque, with the last one being $50 billion.

    A over a year later, no resolution, just more and more money being fed into the First nation fiscal pipeline.

    Chief RoseAnne Archibald of the Assembly of First Nations wants to put the spot light on where the funding goes, which seems to make many First nation Chiefs nervous.

  2. Not Sure says:

    Is this like the Conservatives calling Jody Wilson Raybould a hero for standing up to Trudeau over SNC Lavalin? Or Democrats calling Liz Cheney a hero for going after Trump on the January 6 committee?

    All three of these women are incredibly brave when they take on the establishment at the risk of their own careers – the risk part makes their actions heroic for sure. But they are only heroes to those that support their cause. Few Conservatives would support JWR or Democrats support Liz Cheney under most any other circumstances.

    Cheney is toast within her own party and I am wondering if JWR would have won reelection in 2021 or if short memory voters would have abandoned her like they did Jane Philpott in the previous election.

    My hope is that the AFN sorts out whatever problems come from the audit and that people, especially outside of the Indigenous community, will continue to view Chief Archibald with respect even when her opinions and actions on reconciliation or Indigenous rights for example don’t necessarily align with their own.

    (Response: I certainly did view Jody Wilson-Raybould as a hero for standing up not just to Trudeau but for principles. Even wrote about it: http://harveyoberfeld.ca/blog/jody-wilson-raybould-is-a-hero-but-i-still-may-not-vote-for-her/. And I did end up voting FOR her in one election, but not the last. I also see Cheney (and Republican House rep Kinzinger) as heroes too … people who speak TRUTH to power … even at their own risk and paying a heavy personal price. But, of course, they are not gods: I could see them as heroes on one issue, but disagree and criticize them on others and at other times. We have too few “heroes” among our “leaders” who stand up for truth, speak the truth and also among those who like Pavlovian pooches support their organization, their association or their party … no matter what. And that’s how lies, cronyism and even corruption get to flourish. h.o)

  3. Stu de Baker says:

    Why is someone a hero for doing what they should be doing, as a leader?
    Or for that matter, doing what not long ago, would have been expected?

    (Response: Because, sadly, so many other “leaders” fight like hell to prevent, block and hide where THEY spend millions of public funds … and have been shown, over and over again, to waste, mismanage and redirect public funds … and then obfuscate and even lie when asked/confronted about it. Fiscal audits can not only expose shortcomings and failings, but also provide reassurance when nothing wrong is found. h.o)

  4. e.a.f. says:

    As soon as Chief Archibald uttered the word audit, I expected those who had been in their positions for some time would try to oust her. Indigenous organizations are no different that other organizations in Canada. Those in control want to keep it and benefit from their position. Its human nature. There are few such as Chief Archibald and Judy Rabourne Wilson who stand by their principles, but they do pay for that.

    Trudeau ought not to have changed audinting the books. I don’t believe we as non band members should have the right to see a Band’s books, but the band members ought to be able to access those “books” in an unlimited manner and be able to question and receive comprehensive answers.

    If other government entities are required to have their “books” audited by outside organizations, such as the government, then the bands ought to be treaated in the same manner. All members of the band need to be assured the money went where it was supposed to go and that the books are balanced. Cities, town, provinces are all required to do so, and the bands should not be excluded.

    One of the issues in Band politics is voting is frequently done in accordance with family relationships. For some Bands, its simply a case of the federal government simply doesn’t allocate enough for health, education, housing or rather housing repairs. When Harper/John Duncan placed the Appiwatskt Band in receiver ship, the Chief/Band appealed. the Judge ruled the only problem was the band simply wasn’t given enough fund to run the band. they had not mis spent any money.

    Chief Archibald has struck a nerve and lets hope she stays in her position and continues with the audit. The men who oppose Chief Archibald are not different than those in other organizations such as unions, churches, local governments, etc. What struck me always has been the up grade in life style these people had. Better cars, better vacations, expensive wardrobes, etc.

    (Response: Frankly, when millions of dollars in public funds are handed out to ANY group, there should be TOTAL transparency so EVERY taxpayer can see EXACTLY where the money was spent. And I don’t think those who GET those millions should have any objection to opening the books so the public CAN see where the money went ..or didn’t go where it was designated. h.o)

  5. max avelli says:

    Hi Harvey,

    You don’t need to post this — you may just want to correct your reply to Not Sure.

    The January 6 Committee is a House Committee only. It is not a Joint Committee of the House and Senate. As such, only members of the House can sit on the committee.

    Adam Kinzinger of Illinois is a member of the House, not the Senate. He is from a very Republican District. He decided to step down and not run for re-election because he knew he would get clobbered by the Trumpistas because he agreed to sit on the Committee and voted for Trump’s impeachment. That is something of a profile in courage, as low as those standards are today. He will return!! I am sure of it.

    So too with Liz Cheney. But she has even brassier B***s, as she is running in the primary in Wyoming to be re-nominated, The primary, even more than the state as a whole, is very much filled with Trumpistas. Her chances of winning the Republican primary are slim to none. Will she pull a Lisa Murkowski (Senator – AK) and run as an Independent when she loses the primary? That may depend on whether Wyoming has “sore loser” laws which prevent someone losing their party’s primary from running as an independent in the General Election. I haven’t checked into that.

    (Response: Thanks for this Max. I don’t mind publishing it: you deserve credit for correcting the references…and providing some really interesting information. h.o)

  6. Not Sure says:

    Well this is fun. Stu’s comment and your response sent me to Google. AGAIN!! lol

    A dictionary definition of hero: a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities

    Wikipedia: a real person or a main fictional character who, in the face of danger, combats adversity through feats of ingenuity, courage, or strength.

    And this was the first (and only) article I read. By a psychology professor at Stanford
    https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/what_makes_a_hero

    “Simply put, then, the key to heroism is a concern for other people in need—a concern to defend a moral cause, knowing there is a personal risk, done without expectation of reward.”

    Can politicians be heroes in the broad sense of these definitions or are there just moments in their careers where they have to take a moral stand rather than taking the easy way out. Archibald, Cheney and JWR on a matter of principle did not take the easy way out.

    But this kind of heroism is so fluid. You voted for JWR before the SNC Lavalin affair but despite her “heroism” you did not give her your vote in 2019. Still not sure why.

    And in politics, heroism is in the eye of the beholder. Cheney is no hero to Republicans and despite the praise being heaped on her by Democrats she won’t get many of their votes.

    And most of us know nothing about Archibald and the AFN but as long as she is taking on the AFN (“speaking truth to power”) she is a hero, but to those outside the Indigenous community she was probably no hero when she also “spoke truth to power” by saying about the federal budget

    “All of the wealth of Canada is being made on First Nations lands. Whether those are unceded territories or treaty lands. The wealth of this country has to be shared with First Nations.”

    Anyway, Harvey, I totally agree that we need politicians with integrity and honesty who are willing to stand out and take on necessary issues despite the risks to their careers, etc. But a system that puts most power in the PMO and demands loyalty to the party makes it difficult for that to happen.

    Interesting topic in a philosophical kind of way.

    (Response: I believe Chief RoseAnne Archibald fulfills the description in your cited statement, showing clearly ” a concern for other people in need—a concern to defend a moral cause, knowing there is a personal risk, done without expectation of reward.” Just imagine the heat, the nastiness (ostracization?) she must have faced behind the scenes at the AFN when she DARED to start questioning where/how AFN funds had been spent over the previous 8 years! As I mentioned, when you are in a position of power, it is MUCH easier to just take the money, the perks etc … and even share, not question, when you see spending/policies that raise questions. As for Jody … I voted FOR her as my MP, as stated, on principle, after she did stand up on principle herself to Trudeau/Liberal’s totally inappropriate pressures and even bullying. However, sitting as an independent, judging by her public statements, public stances and her mailings etc. I got the distinct feeling she saw herself and devoted herself almost entirely to representing First Nations, their issues and her band … and I felt she pretty well ignored the rest of us in her riding. I’m sure she would disagree …but clearly many others who voted for her as both a Liberal and then as an Independent, felt similarly to me not long after she was elected the second time. h.o)

  7. OldIslander says:

    It would be interesting to see what a forensic audit might uncover.

    Nearly a decade ago, the Attawapiskat First Nation in Ontario declared a housing crisis on their reserve. Then PM Harper wondered where all the multi-millions being paid to the band, was going. The subsequent audit determined nearly $2M missing and unaccounted for.

    Around the same time, another investigation discovered the Chief of the Kwikwetlem First Nation here in BC, overseeing 80 people, less than 40 of whom actually lived on the reserve, was paid over $1M per year, much of it tax-free.

    The Assembly of Nations seemed to ‘cave’ too easily on this. They will almost certainly attempt to contain, white-wash, or control the proposed audit, lest a hundred more stories like the two above see the light of day.

    (Response: I see transparency as not only a goal for the AFN and/or First Nations …but EVERY organization or project where large amounts of public monies have been expended. Why not? Why would anyone object? Makes me very suspicious when people try to keep the spending of public money very private! h.o)

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