((Xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh)/Vancouver (with files from Brett Forrester of APTN) – The Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) congratulates RoseAnne Archibald of Taykwa Tagamou Nation as the first woman elected as National Chiefof the Assembly of First Nations. National Chief Archibald has made significant contributions during her 31 years in politics, serving her community as the first woman and youngest Chief of Taykwa Tagamou Nation at 23 years of age, the first woman and youngest Deputy Grand Chief for Nishnawbe-Aski Nation as well as Grand Chief of Mushkegowuk Council, and as the first woman to be elected as Regional Chief of Ontario.
RoseAnne Archibald is the new national chief of the Assembly of First Nations.
She becomes the first-ever woman to hold the post and first person from Ontario to lead the organization in four decades.
“You can tell all the women in your life that the glass ceiling has been broken,” Archibald exclaimed in a Thursday evening victory speech. “I thank all of the women who punched that ceiling before me and made a crack. You are an inspiration to me, all the women who walked this path ahead of me.”
Reginald Bellerose, long-time Muskowekwan First Nation chief in Saskatchewan, withdrew from the race after a marathon five-ballot runoff vote failed to produce a winner.
Archibald got 205 votes, or 50 per cent of the 406 registered chiefs and proxies after round five. Bellerose lost 30 votes and secured 35 per cent of the ballots. The threshold to win was 60 per cent.
Bellerose thanked his supporters and wished Archibald the best of luck. The chiefs made it clear they didn’t want back-to-back national leaders from Saskatchewan, Bellerose said.
“There’s disappointment, obviously,” he remarked. “But not going in to the next ballot does not mean we’re giving up and you won’t see another Saskatchewan representative. I think Canada needs to continue to see Saskatchewan representatives.”
“I share my heart-felt congratulations to National Chief Archibald and am inspired to see more representation of Indigenous women occupying spaces of leadership that have been held by Indigenous men for so long,” said Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, UBCIC Secretary-Treasurer. “It can be an upstream journey as First Nations women paddling against the systems that oppress us; however, this historic election represents a tide that is turning for greater representation of Indigenous women in politics, and the restoration of our traditional roles as leaders of our communities and Nations. Indigenous women and children need a champion in this country as we continue to face discrimination, forced separation, and an ongoing crisis of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls and two-spirited people and I look forward to working with National Chief Archibald on these and all issues.”
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, UBCIC President stated, “I am absolutely thrilled to see the role of AFN National Chief finally filled by a woman. Many of our Nations were traditionally led by matriarchs and I am heartened today to see an imposed patriarchal system challenged by our people who have elected National Chief Archibald to provide the intelligent, thoughtful and bold leadership that is needed in these changing times. Today is a day to recognize the ancestors who forged this path, and to celebrate not only National Chief Archibald’s accomplishments and hard- fought journey to stand where she does today, but the strengths of our women in every community across our Nations. We don’t have time to cater to the old boys’ club – we have much work to do together for the advancement of Indigenous Title and Rights across Turtle Island.”
“National Chief Archibald has demonstrated her full commitment to our people as a courageous and strong Indigenous woman in First Nations politics, a spirit that will undoubtedly be a gift in her new role as National Chief. In a time when our people are striving to overcome the vestiges of colonialism and continuing to face racism, injustice, and violence, our Nations need a leader with a strong vision and good heart. I congratulate Chief Archibald and commend her on her commitment to creating change and a better future for First Nations peoples,” concluded Chief Don Tom, Vice President Union of BC Indian Chiefs.