Interim National Chief Joanna Bernard Responds to Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Resolution 13/2020 Panel Final Report

Published: Jul 12, 2023Press Release

Halifax, Nova Scotia – Interim National Chief Joanna Bernard released the following statement in response to the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Resolution 13/2020 Panel Final Report:

“On behalf of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Executive Committee, we thank the brave individuals who came forward to share their truths. We are moved by your courage. We hear you, and we stand by you. To those who spoke on the Assembly floor and opened their hearts to the room, we recognize the power in your words, and we thank you for your strength,” Interim National Chief Joanna Bernard said. “The Resolution 13 Panel has done a tremendous amount of work in gathering First Nations’ experiences and relying on expert input. We acknowledge them for their efforts and recommendations.”

Dr. Gwendolyn Point, Debbie Hoffman, and Amanda Barnaby Lehoux provided an update on Resolution #13/2020, Becoming a Role Model in Ending Sexual Orientation and Gender-Based Discrimination Within the Assembly of First Nations, to First Nations-in-Assembly during the Annual General Assembly (AGA), on July 12, 2023

Interim National Chief Bernard added, “We are deeply disturbed by the findings. No individual should ever experience sexual orientation – or gender-based discrimination, hate or bullying of any kind. As we review the Report’s recommendations closely, the AFN Executive Committee unequivocally commits to concrete action to address what we’ve learned and are learning from those who have shared their stories.”

Measures will include steps to enhance, renew or modify our existing policies, codes of conduct, development of new harassment reporting procedures, and ensure a safe and respectful working environment that relies on First Nations teachings and traditions.

These measures will be designed to properly inform, prevent, and address any incidents of sexual orientation and gender-based discrimination and to ensure such behaviour is never again tolerated at the AFN. This will include urgent action to introduce a zero-tolerance policy in the workplace and at all AFN events, and ensure all complaints are taken seriously and acted upon promptly, with a proper, trauma-informed investigative process in place to ensure accountability.

“The personal and professional well-being of our staff, AFN members, and all First Nations is our utmost priority, and we do not take this responsibility lightly. We are committed to fostering an inclusive and respectful environment where everyone feels safe and valued.

To the Panel, those who shared their experiences, and Survivors of sexual orientation or gender-based discrimination, violence, hate or bullying of any kind, we acknowledge your stories. Once again, thank you to those who came forward. Your courage will be a guiding light in this process of change, healing, and reconciliation.”


The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is a national advocacy organization that works to advance the collective aspirations of First Nations individuals and communities across Canada on matters of national or international nature and concern. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.

For more information please contact:

Genna Benson
Director, Communications
Assembly of First Nations
[email protected]