Interim National Chief Bernard is a proud mother of five sons, one stepdaughter, and grandmother to fifteen grandchildren. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, and raised in Madawaska First Nation, New Brunswick, interim National Chief Bernard is of First Nations and Italian descent.
Interim National Chief Bernard has more than two decades of experience in First Nations politics and leadership. She’s been an integral part of Madawaska Maliseet First Nation and played a pivotal role in its growth and success. Throughout her journey, interim National Chief Bernard held various positions of leadership and made significant contributions for First Nations across New Brunswick.
In recognition of her efforts and leadership, Interim National Chief Bernard received the Order of New Brunswick in 2013 contributing to the well-being and economic prosperity of the Madawaska Maliseet First Nation and other First Nations communities throughout New Brunswick. Her dedication was acknowledged by being appointed as an Honorary Colonel in the Canadian Armed Forces and receiving Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee Medal and Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee Medal.
In 2021, Joanna Bernard assumed the role of Regional Chief for New Brunswick and the role of Interim National Chief in July 2023. With her experience, passion for economic development, and commitment to advocating for First Nations inherent and Treaty rights, Interim National Chief Bernard continues advocate for First Nations across Canada and future generations
Priority 1 – Champion Workplace Wellness
- Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Hiring
- Update AFN whistle-blower policy, code of conduct, harassment reporting process
- Panel 13 Report Response
- Address unresolved Executive Code of Conduct Complaints
- Ensure completion of mandates, including Financial Accountability mandates
(Resolution 03/2022, Investigation and Audit of AFN’s Financial and Management Policies, and Resolution 43/2023, Review of the Past Ten Years of the Assembly of First Nations/National Indian Brotherhood Audits.)
- Continue strong AFN Executive Committee Engagement
Priority 2 – Advancing First Nation Mandates
- Advancing resolutions from First Nations-in-Assembly and addressing key gaps,
with a focus on the 2021-2023 period
- Spokesperson for AFN events, key meetings, and media