Randall Phillips, Grand Chief of the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians (AIAI), will leave office on September 30, the AIAI has announced.
His sudden, unexpected resignation was accepted at a special meeting on September 19, the AIAI said in a media release on September 26. He had just begun his second term.
“It has been a humbling but absolutely wonderful experience and I will really miss the people that I’ve met,” Phillips said in the AIAI statement. “What I’ve learned over the years is that there is still so very much to do for the people, and I know I will find something to keep me busy. I look forward to what challenges the future brings to me.”
Deputy Grand Chief Denise Stonefish will be Acting Grand Chief until Phillips is replaced.
“In the fight for First Nations’ sovereignty, Grand Chief Phillips’ passion, aggressiveness, and courage were intermingled to bring to the forefront the many issues that First Nations face day to day,” she said in the statement. “As an Emerson inspirational quote states, ‘Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.’ While Grand Chief Phillips’ qualities may be difficult to fill, he has certainly left a memorable trail.”
She said she had been looking forward to working with the chief over the next two years.
“I take this opportunity to say with great appreciation,” she said. “Thank you for all your contributions to AIAI and its member nations. May the future bring you all good fortune and best wishes in whatever you may do.”
Phillips has worked on First Nations issues for 27 years, according to an AIAI biography, including working for the Assembly of First Nations, the federal government, Friendship Centres and for his home community of the Oneida Nation of the Thames. He served two terms as chief of the Oneida Nation Settlement, starting in 2004, and was elected as AIAI’s Grand Chief in May 2008. He is a member of the Political Confederacy for the Chiefs in Ontario, holding the portfolio files for Child Welfare, Social, Youth and Financial administration, the AIAI said.