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‘There’s no conspiracies:’ First Nations leaders say the AFN wants to get back to business | CBC News

First Nations leaders responded to comments by ousted Assembly of First Nations (AFN) national chief RoseAnne Archibald in a Facebook live video Thursday by saying they want the AFN to get back to work. 

In the video, Archibald called her removal as national chief a “coup” orchestrated by the AFN’s regional chiefs. 

In an AFN virtual assembly on June 28, 71 per cent of chiefs in attendance voted for her removal. She is the first national chief to be voted out of the office mid-term. 

“This isn’t a coup,” said Scott McLeod, chief of Nipissing First Nation, about 300 kilometres north of Toronto. 

“This is what the chiefs want and I, like many others, just want to get on with business.”

Archibald named McLeod in Thursday night’s video suggesting he was part of a conspiracy to oust her and that he is a spokesperson for the regional chiefs. 

A First Nations leader on Parliament Hill.
Chief Scott McLeod of Nipissing First Nation says ‘there’s no conspiracies’ to oust RoseAnne Archibald as national chief. (Brett Forester/CBC)

“There’s no conspiracies,” said McLeod.

He said the video has no basis in fact and is a continuation of the kind of politics that have plagued the AFN since Archibald became national chief. 

McLeod said he does not speak for any other chiefs in the assembly. 

“I am part of this assembly and this is a chiefs assembly and we’re allowed to speak on topics, we’re supposed to be free to speak on on topics,” said McLeod. 

McLeod said he will be attending the AFN’s annual general assembly in Halifax next week, but will be taking an early flight home if the assembly dissolves into a “fiasco” and a “waste of time,” dealing with issues related to Archibald instead of topics the gathering is meant for. 

“I’m trying to go to do work on behalf of my First Nation,” said McLeod.

“Hopefully we can get down to business.” 

Archibald posts videos on social media

The AFN is the largest Indigenous advocacy organization in Canada, representing more than 600 First Nations communities across the country.

An external investigation launched last year into five misconduct complaints filed by AFN staff against Archibald found she harassed two complainants and retaliated against all five. The virtual assembly last week was held to address the report’s finding, and she was voted out as national chief. 

Archibald has denied the findings of the report and has repeatedly called the HR investigation a “distraction” and “cover up” for “what is really going on at the AFN” in her social media videos. 

Archibald denied CBC News’s request for an interview for this story. She hasn’t spoken to media since being ousted, but posted two videos on her Facebook page to speak to her supporters this week. 

Archibald also called out Manitoba regional chief Cindy Woodhouse in Thursday’s video, suggesting she was gunning for a seat as national chief. 

Cindy smiles at the camera in a red shirt and black blazer.
Assembly of First Nations Manitoba Regional Chief Cindy Woodhouse would not say if she will run for national chief. (Cindy Woodhouse-Nepinak/Facebook)

Woodhouse did not confirm or deny her intentions of running for national chief. 

“I always have an intention to help First Nations people and so right now I’m focused on being the best regional chief that I can for the Manitoba region,” she said. 

Woodhouse said she believes in safe workplaces and making sure AFN staff are protected. 

Woodhouse said there is work to be done for the AFN to get back to being a well-managed organization with strong leadership that works together in a “kind way.” 

“We are moving on,” said Woodhouse. 

Accusations of ‘government interference’

In Thursday night’s video, Archibald accused the AFN of becoming a “tool for the government” and called for an investigation into “government interference in AFN.” 

Archibald also called out Paul Prosper, regional chief for Nova Scotia. He was appointed to the Senate that day. 

Regional Chief, Paul Propser (Nova Scotia) sitting at a table in Vancouver with other Assembly of First Nations leaders on July 5, 2022.
AFN Nova Scotia Regional Chief Paul Prosper was appointed to the Senate Thursday. Archibald has called him out as being part of a ‘coup’ to oust her. (Andrew Lee/CBC)

Archibald posted the appointment on her Facebook page with the caption: “There are no coincidences. The regional chief who is speaking for other regional chiefs re: their #coup against me.” 

Prosper told CBC News he respected Archibald.

“I do, it’s just that we’re on different sides of an important issue that was decided upon recently,” he said. 

Archibald said in the video she hasn’t made a decision if she will attend next week’s meeting in Halifax and that she would be sending out a memo to the more than 600 chiefs represented by the AFN, asking for direction in the matter.

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