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Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs grand chief suspended due to accusations of sexual assault

Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Arlen Dumas was suspended by the AMC executive council March 18 while an investigation of an accusation of sexual assault takes place.
amc grand chief arlen dumas
Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Arlen Dumas during a visit to Thompson in 2020.

The grand chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, one of the most powerful Indigenous leaders in this province, has been accused of sexual assault, and the Winnipeg Police Service confirmed March 18 that those accusations have been reported to police.

On March 17 reports surfaced that AMC Grand Chief Arlen Dumas has been accused of sexual assault by a woman who is reported to have worked with AMC, an organization that represents and advocates for 62 First Nations across Manitoba.

As a result, AMC announced March 18 that they will be investigating the complaint, and that Dumas has been suspended from his role while the investigation is being carried out.

On March 18, Winnipeg police confirmed in an email sent to the Winnipeg Sun that they have received a complaint against Dumas and that an incident number has been created, but said they would offer no further comment on the report at this time, and would not reveal the name of any other parties involved in the report.

No criminal charges have been laid against Dumas, and the allegations have not been tested in court.

AMC held an emergency meeting of their executive council on March 18 to discuss the allegations and the next steps that would be taken, and after that meeting announced that they will now be investigating the complaint, and that Dumas will be suspended from his role for the duration of that investigation.

According to AMC, their personnel and finance committees will engage the services of Manitoba human resource lawyers to investigate the complaint in a manner that is “impartial, neutral and objective.”

AMC also announced that their personnel and finance committees will review the existing workplace harassment policies and make amendments to them, and also review the current provisions of the AMC constitution and identify proposed amendments for consideration by the chiefs-in-assembly.

AMC said because of the nature of the issue they will be offering no further comment at this time.

Dumas has served in the role of grand chief of AMC since 2017, and this is not the first time accusations have been levelled against him for alleged inappropriate conduct.

Back in 2019, Dumas took a temporary leave of absence from his role as grand chief after being accused of sending unwanted text and social media messages to Bethany Maytwayashing, a woman who says she received numerous unwanted messages from Dumas, including one that asked if they could “meet up.”

At the time those messages were sent, Dumas was in his mid-40s, while Maytwayashing was 22 years old.

On March 18, Maytwayashing wrote a Facebook post reacting to the most recent accusations regarding Dumas, and gave the Sun permission to publish the post in which she did not hold back in her thoughts about the grand chief.

“I knew his behaviour was a pattern,” Maytwayashing wrote in her post. “I have been confident about that, a part of me knew he would just get caught again doing what he does.

“But I’m proud of the woman that came forward about Arlen Dumas most recently, I also want to thank her. Thank you for having the courage to come forward and I hope my story gave you that push to do so.

“I hope everyone sees this man for what he is, and that is a predator. His behaviour is unacceptable.”

Dumas released a statement after the 2019 allegations were first made admitting that his messages may have been inappropriate, but denying he was seeking an intimate or romantic relationship with Maytwayashing at the time

“Upon reflection, I realize that this style of open and informal communication may not be suited to the role of grand chief,” Dumas said in the 2019 statement before taking a two-week leave of absence he said he would use to “heal.”

— Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the government of Canada.