Assembly of First Nations approves forensic audit

The Assembly of First Nations has finally voted on an emergency draft resolution calling for a forensic audit of the organizations financial and management practices over the last decade.

The contentious issue, which has dominated the AFN’s three-day General Assembly in downtown Vancouver, passed with 75 per cent voting in favour.

It was one of three emergency resolutions linked to a conflict between elected National Chief Roseanne Archibald and the AFN’s Executive Committee that were initially on the agenda for Tuesday morning.

The first draft of the resolution on the forensic audit included scathing language about alleged chronic financial mismanagement within the AFN.

“A major plank in the election campaign of the National Chief was to eradicate all forms of corruption, cronyism and the toxic working environment that plagued the AFN then, and apparently continues to negatively affect the AFN now, through accountability and transparency measures,” the initial draft of the resolution said.

That entire portion was struck from the final draft voted on by the chiefs on Wednesday morning.

The adopted version calls on the AFN’s Chiefs Committee on Charter Renewal to conduct a review of the organization’s financial policies and practices and provide a report to the Executive Committee.

It also calls on the Chiefs Committee on Charter Renewal to make recommendations “regarding the scope and nature of a forensic audit not to be limited in time to anything less than 10 years.”

A number of chiefs who participated in the debate before the vote expressed concern about the expense associated with a forensic audit covering a decade or more, and called for it to be limited to the previous one or two years.

But those amendments were rejected.

“It’s a bit of a waste of finaincal resources for our communities, especially going back ten years in a forensic audit. It’s going to take a lot of time and a lot of money,” said Chief Scott McLeod of Nipissing First Nation.

The resolution also calls on the National Chief and the Executive Committee to cooperate with an ongoing human resources investigation into four workplace complaints lodged against Chief Archibald.

Those complaints led the executive to suspend her with pay on June 17.

On Tuesday, the assembled chiefs voted overwhelmingly against an emergency resolution calling for that suspension to be upheld, with many saying the executive overstepped its authority in handing it down in the first place.

Throughout the three-day event, many in attendance said they were frustrated and dismayed that the ongoing political turmoil was taking valuable time away from important issues regarding health, child welfare, education and housing that they had hoped to discuss.

“There’s key resolutions that I need, for Ontario, to be done, and they’re going to be omnibussed and there’s no deliberation, there’s no discussion and these are issues of national importance,” said Chief Brent Bisaillon of Ontario’s Serpent River First Nation.