AMC Criticizes Lack of First Nations Representation and Calls for Dissolution of MVSD Board

June 14, 2024

Treaty One Territory, Manitoba

AMC Communications

Treaty One Territory, Winnipeg – The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) says the absence of First Nations representation on an oversight panel appointed by Education Minister Nello Altomare further underscores the need for the complete dissolution of the Board of Trustees for the Mountain View School Division (MVSD). The three-person oversight panel, announced this week, does little to address the long-standing concerns voiced by First Nations in Manitoba. The AMC Grand Chief Cathy Merrick believes the lack of consultation with First Nations Leadership in forming the oversight panel is a significant step backward in the efforts toward inclusive and equitable education for all Manitobans.

“The exclusion of First Nations voices from this panel is deeply troubling and indicative of a broader systemic issue within the Mountain View School Division and provincial education governance as a whole,” said Grand Chief Cathy Merrick. “First Nations children deserve to have their Nations’ perspectives, needs, and historical truths honoured at every level of decision and policy-making. Especially in education, which is critical to their future, the future of First Nations, and the collective future of Manitoba.”

The AMC believes that co-creating a new Board of Trustees is the best solution for repairing the damage caused by board member Paul Coffey’s comments and the subsequent exclusion of First Nations representation on the oversight panel. “Paul Coffey’s remarks were the catalyst that brought the long-standing issue of racism in the Dauphin region to light,” said Grand Chief Merrick. “His behaviour remains unaddressed. Even when the situation was brought to light, the province stated they were investigating the matter. Yet, nothing was done, and despite calls for his immediate dismissal, he still holds a position on the school board. First Nations must be involved in decisions that affect our children, and those words Paul Coffey spoke had a profound impact, so it is only right that the province works with the AMC to decide the next steps forward.”

Around one-third of MVSD students are First Nations. Grand Chief Merrick says this number alone should have prompted the minister to consult with First Nations in that area. “The first consideration should have been to contact and sit down with Elders, First Nations Leadership, parents, and education directors,” continued Grand Chief Merrick. “Governments must centre the voices of First Nations when it comes to making decisions that affect the education and well-being of First Nations children.”

The AMC urges Minister Nello Altomare and the provincial government to dissolve the MVSD Board of Trustees immediately and work collaboratively with First Nations Leadership to develop a more inclusive and representative governance structure, which means appointing First Nations representatives. The AMC emphasizes that such a move is essential not only to address past harms but to ensure that First Nations children receive the education they deserve in an environment that respects their culture, history, and needs.

For more information, please contact:
Communications Team
Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs

About the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs
The AMC was formed in 1988 by the Chiefs in Manitoba to advocate on issues that commonly affect First Nations in Manitoba. AMC is an authorized representative of 62 of the 63 First Nations in Manitoba with a total of more than 172,000 First Nations citizens in the province, accounting for approximately 12 percent of the provincial population. AMC represents a diversity of Anishinaabe (Ojibway), Nehetho / Ininew (Cree), Anisininew (Ojibwe-Cree), Denesuline (Dene) and Dakota Oyate (Dakota) peoples.