The AMC responds to changes to Band Council election rules during the COVID-19 pandemic
April 17, 2020
Treaty One Territory, Manitoba
Treaty One Territory, Manitoba – The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) Grand Chief Arlen Dumas reluctantly accepts the Statement by the Minister of Indigenous Services on April 16, 2020, regarding the temporary regulation, First Nations Election Cancellation and Postponement Regulations (Prevention of Diseases) to the Indian Act ensuring the continuance of governance of First Nations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
AMC Grand Chief Arlen Dumas said, “These changes to the elections rules are necessary for the safety of First Nations in Manitoba, and provides them with a bit of certainty as they deal with COVID-19. The process was far from perfect as First Nations in Manitoba were not consulted on these changes and given that a number of First Nations had begun or were about to begin the process of electing their Chief and Council. We recognize that timing was an issue caused by the spread of COVID-19 and government was focused on the health and emergency management aspect of the pandemic. However, an approach closer to reconciliation that recognizes the self-determination of First Nations in Manitoba would have found a better way rather than relying on utilizing regulations to annex the Indian Act. Particularly for those First Nations who have customary election codes, as this regulation purports to apply to those Nations. This is not the first pandemic we have worked our way through. These types of issues could be resolved after any emergency, be it a pandemic, flood, fire, etc. With that said, these new time constrained regulations are warranted at this unprecedented time. The alternative was not acceptable: that the Minister or his departmental staff unilaterally dictating local governance for First Nations in Manitoba, especially when it comes to leadership trying to keep our youth and Elders and all citizens safe from COVID-19.”