Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs says non-confidence vote still set for Friday despite announcement by Arlen Dumas

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs says a non-confidence vote on whether to remove suspended Grand Chief Arlen Dumas will proceed on Friday as planned, despite an announcement by Dumas that he will seek trauma-based treatment. 

Dumas announced his intention through an emailed release Wednesday, just two days before the special general assembly. 

It’s the second time in recent years he has volunteered to seek treatment after a woman said he was inappropriate with her. 

The email release from Dumas said he would “voluntarily seek trauma-based treatment to begin healing not only from the events of the past five months but also a lifetime of trauma.”

Sandra DeLaronde says Dumas is entitled to trauma support but it shouldn’t be at the expense of victims. (Jaison Empson/CBC)

Sandra DeLaronde, an advocate for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Manitoba, described the announcement as “too little, too late.”

“If he was sincere about addressing the trauma … he wouldn’t have waited until the 11th hour,” DeLaronde said. 

In June, DeLaronde was the driving force behind a letter signed by 200 people, including lawyers, doctors, sitting federal and provincial politicians, which voiced support of Dumas’s accuser and called on the AMC to launch an independent inquiry and trauma-informed process that focuses on victims.

Vote to proceed as planned

Wednesday’s release from Dumas does not say whether he is stepping away from or resigning his position. 

Dumas “remains steadfast that the allegations against him are unfounded,” it said. 

In response, the AMC said that the announcement by Dumas will not stop the vote from proceeding late Friday afternoon as scheduled.

“The vote of non-confidence will proceed in a closed meeting, in accordance with the Executive Council of Chiefs’ resolution following the independent workplace investigation, which found that the actions of Arlen Dumas amounted to workplace sexual harassment,”  said a statement from the AMC. 

Not the first time 

The AMC suspended Dumas in March pending an investigation into whether he had had engaged in workplace sexual harassment. 

Shauna Fontaine abandoned her anonymity in June — identifying herself as the person behind the complaint — to express her disappointment with the response of the AMC and the police to her report.

Last month the AMC announced the upcoming special general assembly to remove Dumas.

Three years ago, in July 2019, Grand Chief Dumas stepped away from his role temporarily after a Lake Manitoba First Nation woman, Bethany Maytwayashing, said he used a fake Facebook account to pursue an inappropriate relationship with her. 

As with Wednesday’s release, Dumas also cited the need to deal with his traumas in that case.

DeLaronde said Dumas should not have been allowed to seek re-election following the previous allegations. 

“Had this situation been dealt with in the first place three years ago, we wouldn’t be here today because he would not have been eligible to be grand chief,” DeLaronde said. 

DeLaronde said she recognizes the importance of Indigenous people having access to trauma support and commends Dumas for the step he has taken, but says the needs of others involved matter as well. 

“His trauma support shouldn’t be at the expense of the many victims that have come forward either publicly or through private meetings,” she said,

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