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Dumas: Reconciliation and respect for First Nations rights...

It's only been six months since Arlen Dumas was elected Grand Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC), but in that time he has successfully pushed the federal government to create change in their nation-tonation relationship when it comes to child and family services.

During the AMC's November 2017 Assembly held in the Dakota Tipi First Nation, the Chiefs-in-Assembly supported the Grand Chief to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Government of Canada. As part of this MOU, the Province of Manitoba will be invited to participate in discussions regarding child welfare reforms between the AMC and Government of Canada.

"The AMC is committed to working with Manitoba First Nations to exert their inherent jurisdiction over child welfare and working collaboratively with Canada to achieve our First Nations' child welfare reform priorities," said Dumas.?

This is one of the first steps the AMC has taken in order to claim back control over child welfare and family services in Manitoba; instead of it being provincially led.?

"When we look at the history of First Nation child welfare policy in this country there was one consistent goal: assimilation. Government policy was invasive and destructive; it cut to the core of our communities," said Dumas.

The AMC is also working toward a formal relationship with Canada and Manitoba First Nations to promote the treaty right to health and the treaty right to housing. This approach is ensured by Manitoba First Nation voices working together as one. This dates back to Wahbung: Our Tomorrows and work done by previous Chiefs' on dismantling the department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada by pursuing First Nations' jurisdiction.

In 1971, the Manitoba Indian Brotherhood, now the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, presented their influential position paper Wahbung: Our Tomorrows to Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau and the Government of Canada.

First Nations across Canada presented policy papers that not only rejected Trudeau?s controversial White Paper that was written in 1969, but more importantly expressed views on the direction they wanted to take to become self-determined.?

Dumas often refers to Wahbung: Our Tomorrows. He uses the position paper as a guideline in his leadership. "The system will never change; that?s why we have to force it," said Dumas.

"Reconciliation and respect for First Nations rights will require a substantive shift in status quo."

With the signed MOU with Canada on December 7, 2017, and more to come on the inherent rights of First Nations, Dumas is positioning the AMC to lead the change in the relationship with the federal government.

"Everyone is talking about reconciliation as the path forward. It's time to stop talking and it?s time to take action," he said.

This article sponsored by the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs.

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