Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) Grand Chief Arlen Dumas is under fire from two women he befriended, one saying he sent her messages that made her feel uncomfortable and another saying the two had a brief relationship before he ended it abruptly after months of contacting her online.
Dumas, the former chief of Mathias Colomb Cree Nation at Pukatawagan, said in an AMC press release July 12 that the allegations by Bethany Maytwayashing that he contacted her using a Facebook account with the name Charles Forbes were “entirely false” and that all he had done was provide her guidance and advice she had asked him for. The AMC grand chief also said his informal style of communication might not be suited to his role and apologized if it had ever made anyone feel uncomfortable. He also said that he was taking a leave of absence from his duties as grand chief to heal and grieve from the personal tragedy and hardship he has faced in the past couple of years since becoming ACC grand chief.
APTN reported July 10 that Maytwayashing had first met Dumas while working at a Winnipeg restaurant in 2018. They became friends on Facebook and talked about her job and then she said she was contacted by Charles Forbes, who gave hints that he was Dumas and asked if they could meet up. She also received texts on her mobile phone from a number that sources told APTN was one used by the grand chief, who said it was a spoof text that only appeared to come from that number. Maytwayashing said the texts made her uncomfortable. The online exchange between her and Forbes was posted on Facebook by Maytwayashing’s boyfriend Matthew Shorting.
On July 15, Renée Yetman posted a Facebook live video describing how she met Dumas during the AMC elections in her home community of Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation in 2017, saying he repeatedly contacted her via Facebook when she was living in Winnipeg until they had consensual sex, after which he messaged less frequently and soon sought to end their relationship.
“He pretty much traumatized me the way he treated me,” Yetman said, claiming that other women had similar stories. “Our voices need to be heard.”
AMC’s Women’s Council said in a July 16 news release that, after agreeing to meet with Matwayashing, she sent three men to meet with them and that she and Shorting were making unfounded allegations on social media and soliciting complaints against First Nations leadership in Manitoba.
“This has created a media frenzy based on little more than Facebook posts,” said Swan Lake First Nation Chief Francine Meeches, chair of the AMC Women’s Council. “As a result, the AMC Women’s Council will no longer be part of this social media drama which is clearly targeting all our First Nation leaders in Manitoba.”