Friction between Idle No More advocates and the Assembly of First Nations was on display Tuesday at a Senate committee designed to study government legislation surrounding reserve accountability mechanisms.
The AFN, which operates as an advocacy body for elected First Nations chiefs, was under fire during testimony from Idle No More advocate and lawyer Charlene Desrochers.
Desrochers, who opposes the government’s Bill C-27, slammed the umbrella group and claimed grassroots people are dissatisfied with the feds and the structure of the AFN as a whole.
“The AFN is a very undemocratic organization,” said Desrochers, who believes First Nations people, not chiefs, should be electing the head of the AFN.
Desrochers was one witness called to appear before a Senate committee now probing the implications of Bill C-27.
The government says the legislation is designed to “enhance the financial accountability and transparency of First Nations.” It is set to become law with the government’s majority in the Upper Chamber.
Conservative Senator Nancy Greene Raine says there are a lot of reserves that already have accountability structures in place, but the legislation will ensure information is available without fear of intimidation in some communities.
The AFN say chiefs and councillors are already required to provide audited financial statements annually. It has also accused the feds of failing to appropriately consult with First Nations.
“First Nations certainly want to be open, transparent and accountable and for the most part our First Nations are,” said AFN B.C. Regional Chief Jody Wilson-Raybould.