(Taykwa Tagamou Nation Territory, ON, February 18, 2021) It is unfortunate that what is a confidential AFN Executive Committee matter has been leaked to the media by unknown parties. Since this disclosure has occurred, I am compelled to address this matter.
I was first alerted to harassment allegations against me when National Chief Bellegarde and his legal counsel Mr. Mantas called me, without notice, on Friday February 5, 2021.
I immediately raised that the timing of these harassment allegations appeared to be reprisal in response to a confidential Chiefs of Ontario resolution, passed just the previous day on February 4, 2021. The Chiefs of Ontario resolution seeks an independent financial review of the Assembly of First Nations. I have become a target of the National Chief and the Assembly of First Nations Secretariat because I have documents that show financial improprieties within the Assembly of First Nations.
When the dust settles, I believe that my efforts to treat people with respect will be demonstrated. When I learned of the allegations against me, I wanted to make sure that staff were aware that I respect and appreciate their contribution to the workplace. I extended an offer to engage in healing with anybody who may feel hurt and to address any workplace tensions. I made this offer without knowledge of the specifics of the allegations against me. To this day, the details of the allegations against me remain vague. Nevertheless, if there are people, staff or otherwise, that would benefit from a healing circle, I continue to extend that invitation.
Regarding an investigation into the harassment allegations against me, I continue to maintain that this process must be fair and transparent, not only for my benefit but also for the benefit of the complainants. Unlike the office of the National Chief, I have no issue with transparency and accountability. I welcome and I am prepared to submit to a fair and independent investigation.
However, as my counsel has raised in correspondence, there are significant concerns about the independence of the proposed investigator, Mr. Peter Mantas of Faskens LLP – the same lawyer that was on the phone with the National Chief on Friday February 5, 2021, advising me of harassment allegations.
The National Chief has recently confirmed that Mr. Mantas takes instruction from the AFN in general and the CEO in particular. The confidential Chiefs of Ontario resolution seeking a financial review of the AFN and my concerns about reprisal both involve senior leadership at the Assembly of First Nations. I do not believe that Mr. Mantas can conduct a fair and independent investigation into the allegations against me when he simultaneously takes instruction from senior leadership at the Assembly of First Nations.
Finally, female members of the AFN Executive Committee, myself included, have raised the issue of gender-based harassment and discrimination at the Executive Committee level. Our complaints have not been addressed. Again, this only heightens my belief that the timing of the complaints and the investigation is a targeted attempt to silence me and to sideline the Chiefs of Ontario resolution seeking an independent financial review of the Assembly of First Nations. I welcome a fair and independent investigation into this ongoing gender-based harassment so that the Assembly of First Nations can become a safe place to work for all.
I look forward to an opportunity to participate in a fair and independent investigation into the harassment allegations against me. Since this process has become increasingly unfair and riddled with conflicts of interest, Ontario will not send a representative to a meeting of the AFN Executive Committee, occurring tomorrow (February 19, 2021).
Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald