The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs’ statement regarding Pallister’s media commentary

December 2, 2020

Treaty One Territory, Manitoba


Treaty One Territory, Manitoba – The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) provides the following response in regards to Premier Pallister’s media commentary regarding First Nations and future COVID-19 vaccine rollouts.   

AMC Grand Chief Arlen Dumas stated, “If the Premier is truly interested and concerned about vaccine rollouts, especially concerning First Nations, I encourage him to properly reach out prior to informing us via media questions. We always remain of the stance that First Nations should be not only be at the table for any issue that involves our Nations, but should also be leaders within said process. It was the Chiefs in Manitoba and the First Nations PRCT that initiated and have continued to consistently and steadily keep our citizens informed and assured throughout this global pandemic.   

I acknowledge that both Premier Pallister and Minister Marc Miller have each separately acknowledged that First Nations will be a priority in regards to vaccines, but I reiterate that First Nations need to be consulted, and meaningfully so. There are nuances within Manitoba that need be acknowledged that only First Nations can assist with, and further, we note that jurisdictional issues exist and that silos need to be broken down and broken down immediately.   

It is unfortunate when people make uninformed statements and I move to caution the Premier to consult his technical team and to consult the AMC and by extension, the First Nations Chiefs, prior to making any statement that might cause undue confusion or concern.   

First Nations leadership has consistently shown that we are astute and aware of not only jurisdictional issues that affect our healthcare but further a plethora of other issues and have proposed solutions and opportunities to move forward with. Our First Nations PRCT has created a formidable workforce that helps us to achieve the best outcomes and we will continue to heed their advice along with best practices from our Federal and Provincial counterparts.  

There may also further be a misunderstanding that all vaccines need to go North, but I remind everyone that we have many Nations in the South of this province as well. These potential misunderstandings need to be clarified and conversations need to be had immediately with First Nation leadership.   

Again, I call upon our Federal counterparts to invite and include First Nations leadership to the upcoming First Ministers Meeting on healthcare. It’s clear that for too long our voices have not been heard and therefore it is unsurprising that First Nations needs are not being met when major healthcare decisions are being made in the absence of any First Nation leadership. Now is in fact the time to do away with the status quo. There is no time like the current global pandemic crisis to forge a new collaborative way forward with First Nations.”

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