Is the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs still Relevant?

We are now entering an election period for Grand Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. This election raises some important questions, that require answers and direction.

First, is the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs relevant?

Is electing a woman as Grand Chief the answer to AMC’s problems?

How is the AMC going to support the victims of the former Grand Chief and in doing so how are they going to operationalize the implementation of the 231 Calls to Justice that is trauma informed and guided by family and survivors?

In 1994, the federal government and AMC established a Framework Agreement for the dismantling of Indian Affairs in the Manitoba Region. An independent review of that agreement took place in 1999. Not sure what the results were, but DIAND and its various iterations are in place in Manitoba.

In 1981 the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak INC (MKO) was established to address the inherent Treaty, Aboriginal and Human Rights of their member northern communities.

The Southern Chiefs Organization INC. (SCO) was established in 1999 to represent the 34 Anishnaabe and Dakota communities fr the purposes of protecting, preserving and promoting First Nations inherent treaty rights as committed to under the treaty making process.

There are also 7 independent Tribal Councils in Manitoba representation a specific area of the Province.

There are also 3 active Treaty Organizations in Manitoba.

There is also one Regional Chief that is elected by and represents the Chiefs in Manitoba.

Chiefs of Manitoba have at least three different representative venues dependent on where they are located to voice their concerns and impact change for the First Nations in Manitoba. These organizations all are concerned with inherent and treaty rights and or rights that maybe acquired.

There are 63 First Nations with a total on-reserve population of 93,840 (57.1%) with a total population of 164,289 registered First Nations persons in Manitoba (retrieved 17 Oct 2022 from sac-isc.gc.ca/eng. I do not think this number includes those from other territories within or without Canada.

Of these organizations, none have addressed the issues of portability of rights that would account for 42.9% of the population that live in urban areas or off reserve.

In 1994, the federal government and AMC established a Framework Agreement for the dismantling of Indian Affairs in the Manitoba Region. An independent review of that agreement took place in 1999. Not sure what the results were, but DIAND and its various iterations are in place in Manitoba.

In terms of substantive issues, the AMC has failed to address the environmental impacts of climate change including the health and well-being of all sentient beings. And equally important is the implementation of the 231 Calls to Justice within the governance systems of First Nations in Manitoba.

If the Chiefs of Northern Manitoba formed MKO and the Chiefs of Southern Manitoba formed SCO because the AMC was not addressing the substantive and collective issues of your communities, why do you continue to support AMC as a representative body?

For the past several years, AMC has had to deal with the crisis of leadership of the Grand Chief. In the early summer of 2019, these concerns were brought forward publicly by two victims of the Grand Chief. The matter was referred to the Women’s Council who refused to take a trauma informed approach to hear out the truth as represented by the young women. (https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/arlen-dumas-amc-womens-council-1.5213452) This failure of leadership allowed for the behavior to continue and in fact allowed the former Grand Chief to run again for this position. I believe that anyone that was a member of this council should not allow their name to stand for election until they can make things right with the victim(s).

Again, in 2022, the Grand Chief was accused of sexualized violence of a staff member and a police report was made. As a result of this report, several other women outside the workplace came forward. The AMC steadfastly refused to give hearing to the other victims. This despite the presentation to the National Inquiry into MMIWG2S+ that:

“First Nations women and girls deserved a process that was transparent, 

accountable to them, and reflective of their identities and culture.”

Had the AMC applied it’s stated processes and standards for a Grand Chief, this sexualized violence would not have continued to happen to others since 2019.

After six interventions, following the removal of the Grand Chief in June 2022, to find a way to work with the AMC that would provide an opportunity to follow a traditional cultural process to give hearing to the many victims. This is also inline with the mandate statements and articles of incorporation of the AMC, we were advised that we would have to wait until after the election of the new Grand Chief. So this should be the first order of business and candidates need to advise how they are going to support the victims and what measures will be put in place to address further issues.

Does this mean that the Grand Chief should be a woman or that a woman could do a better job? Not necessarily. If the candidate has not spoken up on this issue or spoken on the issues of violence against women or has done anything concrete to address the issues of violence against Indigenous women, girls and gender diverse people, then that candidacy would not necessarily create change. And yes, this is a clear cut issue, because our women continue to be murdered, continue to go missing and continue to be subject to sexualized violence. This is one of the issues the ended for the first time in AMC history the term of a Grand Chief.

In the final statement to the National Inquiry, the Grand Chief on behalf of AMC stated, ” We will reclaim our traditional jurisdictions and continue to lead the way in protecting and honouring First Nations women and girls. We owe it the families and survivors. It is incumbent upon us to do better.”

Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs – It is time to do better!

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Is the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs still Relevant?

Beyond the Land Acknowledgement

Womens March Winnipeg 2020

First, I love being in places and hearing a land and Treaty acknowledgement, whether its at a community meeting, a sports venue or in my granddaughter’s daycare.  I think Yes, we are still here!

I was speaking with my friend today about the Womens March that is happening tomorrow, January 18, 2020 in Winnipeg.  She asked who is speaking?  Are there Indigenous Women speaking?

We have both attended previous marches because like many we believe in the paramountcy of Human Rights which are Indigenous Rights which are Womens Rights which are Children’s Rights which are 2SLGBTQQIA rights, which are Environmental Rights!

What has been missing in all the Womens Marches in Winnipeg is the voice of Indigenous Women.

For sure, organizers are mindful of land acknowledgements and bringing in an Elder to offer a blessing, maybe a drum.  Missing always is the action beyond the March.

In Canada, we have all been witness and Indigenous Women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA sisters have just finished participating in the most contentious and trauma-inducing National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.  This had been an Inquiry into the situation of Missing and Murdered Loved ones that families and advocates had fought for over many years and successive governments.  The marches have never acknowledged this hard-won victory for Indigenous Women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA peoples.

The National Inquiry found that successive Governments have advanced genocidal policies against Indigenous Women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA peoples. This is from policies such as the Indian Act which in fact created refugees known internationally as internally displaced persons for generations of Indigenous Women and their families for generations and have done nothing to remedy this situation.  Every move towards the acknowledgement of these genocidal policies has been because Indigenous Women stood up, went beyond a march or a public protest and took governments to court.  They have won in every instance.

The final report of the National Inquiry released on June 2, 2019, issued 231 Calls to Justice which are legal imperatives for Governments to Act.  For those that organized the Womens March across Canada and in Winnipeg, I urge you to take up the Calls to Justice, to take up the call for allyship.  If you are not sure, how to do this, go to page 30 of the Calls to Justice for resources to support you.

I would also like to bring to your immediate attention, the Calls to Justice for All Canadians.  The National Inquiry and indeed Indigenous Women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA peoples call on you to give life to these Calls to Justice.  We will move farther together when we address the causes of violence and work together to create a safer society for all of us.

15.1       Denounce and speak out against violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people.

15.2        Decolonize by learning the true history of Canada and Indigenous history in your local area. Learn about and celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ history, cultures, pride, and diversity, acknowledging the land you live on and its importance to local Indigenous communities, both historically and today.

15.3        Develop knowledge and read the Final Report. Listen to the truths shared and acknowledge the burden of these human and Indigenous rights violations, and how they impact Indigenous Women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people.

15.4        using what you learned and some of the resources suggested, become a strong ally. Being a strong ally involves more that just tolerance; it means actively working to break down barriers and to support others in every relationship and encounter in which you participate.

15.5        Confront and speak out against racism, sexism, ignorance, homophobia, and transphobia, and teach or encourage others to do the same, wherever it occurs; in your home, in your workplace or in social settings.

15.6       Protect, support and promote the safety of women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people by acknowledging and respecting the value of every person and every community, as well as the right of Indigenous Women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people to generate their own, self-determined solutions.

15.7        Create time and space for relationships based on respect as human being, supporting and embracing differences with kindness, love and respect. Learn about Indigenous principles of relationship specific to those Nations or communities in your local area and work and put them into practice in all your relationships with Indigenous Peoples.

15.8        Help hold all governments accountable to act on the Calls to Justice, and to implement them according to the important principles we set out.

Beyond the critical importance of land acknowledgments is the responsibility to take action.  What will you do to ensure that the Calls for Justice will be implemented?

Womens March 2017
Beyond the Land Acknowledgement