Arlen Dumas removed as AMC Grand Chief

Written by Javed Iqbal

A Manitoba native leader was removed from his job Friday after being accused of sexual harassment.

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs voted to drop Arlen Dumas as Grand Chief during a closed meeting in Winnipeg. Dumas had already been suspended without pay after an employee filed a wrongdoing complaint against him in May.

“There are policies that need to be put in place and women that need to be protected,” Acting Grand Chief Cornell McLean said after the no-confidence vote among the chiefs, which passed by a 30-13 margin.

“When you are a leader in your community, you cannot (mis)use your power of trust in any way, shape or form.”

Dumas had said the accusation was unfounded and issued a press release earlier this week saying he was seeking treatment for trauma.

He did not attend Friday’s meeting and attempts to reach him by The Canadian Press were unsuccessful. An automated response from his email account said he was out of province.

“There were three requests to his legal counsel and he didn’t respond at all,” McLean said.

The harassment complaint was investigated by an independent investigation that found Dumas had engaged in sexual harassment in the workplace.

It was not the first time Dumas had been the subject of a complaint. In 2019, he temporarily stepped down from the job after a Native woman said he tried to pursue a relationship with her using a false identity on social media.

McLean apologized to both women on Friday on behalf of the congregation. His comments were met with applause from a group of indigenous women who had gathered outside the closed-door meeting.

“This is a big step for us as far as the chiefs are concerned. They are willing to back us up now,” said Lillian Cook, of the Sagkeeng First Nation northeast of Winnipeg.

“There is so much abuse, harassment … the women are afraid to speak.”

Dumas was first elected as grand boss in 2017 and was re-elected last year.

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs represents 62 First Nations in the province.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on August 5, 2022

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Javed Iqbal

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