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A fresh Chapter for the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) is beginning a new chapter with the recent election of Arlen Dumas, chief of Mathias Colomb at the time of the election, was elected AMC grand chief on July 19. This is a perfect time to reflect, re-energize and promote the great value that Manitoba's First Nations can bring to the future of the province and the country through a richer, more robust level of participation. 

Our people and our communities have been in this territory for millennia and will be a strong, vibrant and growing part of this country for countless generations to come. Understanding this leaves no doubt that First Nations have an important role to play in Manitoba's and Canada's policies and programs that address care for children, poverty, education, health, the economy and the important work needed for dealing with the tragedy of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls.

It is time now for all levels of government to more fully engage First Nations for finding solutions and facilitating opportunities. Likewise, it is time again for AMC to seek and build relationships that are aimed at making the First Nation Voice heard as we fully participate in those things that move us forward together.

Perhaps a good place to start is to find a way forward on the issue of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls. Some have said that we shouldn't wait for a report to do some good things now. We know our history here, we know the people who have been so terribly affected and we know who should be included in the discussion for identifying the problems and building the solutions. With all of us together we can start to make actual change now. Together we can help bring closure and healing and bring a new sense of security to our people. What is needed is a willingness to move forward.

Another area that needs considerable effort is ending the marginalization of First Nations and welcoming our people to the same opportunities enjoyed by other Manitobans and Canadians. It is absolutely true that endemic poverty is at the root of many of the societal problems we see. In fact, there are areas of study that specifically focus on such matters in health, justice, social services and many more. Just as an example there has been much studied on the 'Social Determinants of Health' where clear linkages are made between poverty and the levels of health care required. Using this example, imagine how this might help provincial and national budgets with a reduced demand on our health care system, not to mention the significant positive impact on people who would have a better chance to live a full and active life. This too requires serious and thoughtful engagement with First Nations.

These are just two examples, there are many, many more, and they all have a common root. They all need to be addressed with clear, full and respectful engagement with First Nations. We believe that indeed we can find solutions, opportunities and successes that are real, lasting and that make a tangible positive change in how we live our lives together in this nation. This we must do, as we are taught, "...and let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love, caring and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another..."

At this time, we would like to congratulate Grand Chief Dumas and we look forward to this new chapter of AMC's work with all the promise of new opportunities to open doors, to fully engage with other governments, organizations and the private sector and to see real progress. So let's get started and see what we can do together.

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