Manitoba grand chief suspended following sexual assault accusation

AMC says an interim leader will be appointed while an independent probe takes place


The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs suspended its grand chief Friday following an allegation of sexual assault.

In a written statement emailed late Friday afternoon, AMC said “Arlen Dumas is suspended for the duration” of an investigation it will hire outside lawyers to conduct.

The suspension and investigation were two of four decisions the AMC Secretariat made following a closed-door meeting at a Winnipeg hotel Friday afternoon.

The secretariat held an emergency meeting to discuss a letter it received this week from “a senior staff member” who made allegations of “harassment, sexual harassment and sexualized violence” against Dumas.

In the letter, the woman said she filed a formal complaint of sexual assault against Dumas with the Winnipeg Police Service. Police later confirmed “an incident number” had been generated.

A sign confirmed an AMC meeting at a downtown Winnipeg hotel Friday. Photo: APTN News

The third decision, the secretariat said, was to meet next week to appoint an acting grand chief.

And finally, it said it would review its “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.”

It noted all the decisions were taken based on legal advice.

It also said it would not provide any interviews or further statements, although it promised to “provide timely updates in an ongoing manner when reasonably possible to do so.”

There was no mention of support for the female employee who levelled the allegations.

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No criminal charge has been laid against Dumas, and none of the employee’s allegations have been tested or proven.

AMC is a political advocacy group for 61 of 62 First Nations in Manitoba.

Dumas was first elected grand chief in July 2017 before being re-elected to a second three-year term in July 2021.

The employee, in her letter, also alleged AMC has an “unhealthy workplace culture.”

She said the alleged harassment began on her second day on the job.

“I have felt harassed by Grand Chief Dumas,” she wrote, “via phone, in person and virtually.”

She urged the council to act quickly and offered to work with AMC on “any required follow-up.”

Online Journalist / Winnipeg

Award-winning reporter Kathleen Martens covers western and northern Canada for aptnnews.ca. A veteran of the Brandon Sun, Sun Media and APTN Investigates, she is based in APTN’s head office, specializing in stories about property, women’s rights and community.