Grand Chief Arlen Dumas of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs has announced will be taking a temporary leave of absence away from his position to “heal” after a woman accused him of inappropriately trying to contact her by text.
On July 10, APTN News reported that Dumas had contacted 22-year-old Bethany Maytwayashing who says he sent her unwanted and inappropriate messages and texts.
Read the statement here:
Dumas has denied the allegations. He claims someone impersonated him on Facebook Messenger and in cellphone texts.
“These allegations are entirely false,” Dumas said in a statement released Friday.
“I did not pursue a relationship of an intimate nature with this woman,” Dumas said. “I was asked by her for advice and guidance on her path forward. I provided assistance to the best of my professional ability. I messaged her to follow-up. I do this on a regular basis with numerous community members, students, and colleagues who often seek out my support.
“As the Grand Chief, every single day is filled with in-person meetings, phone calls, e-mail and text messages.”
In an emailed statement sent to APTN, Dumas confirmed the texts appeared to come from a phone number that belonged to him.
But he said they were from a phony Facebook account and “spoof” texts – mobile phone texts that “make a message appear to come from one cell phone number when, in fact, they originate from another.”
Dumas said AMC reported the fake account to Facebook and was in the process of validating email addresses and social media accounts.
In the statement Friday, Dumas maintained that the account does not belong to him.
He said if his style of contact upset Maytwayashing, he apologizes.
“Upon reflection, I realize that this style of open and informal communication may not be suited to the role of Grand Chief,” Dumas said in the statement. “While I was sincerely trying to respond to her requests for support, it is clear from her recent public expression of concern that she did not appreciate our informal message exchange.
“I apologize if this made her feel uncomfortable.”
Meanwhile AMC’s women’s council, which told APTN Thursday it’s investigating the allegations, hadn’t seen the news release distributed by AMC announcing Dumas’ leave, and questioned why it would be reported that he’s taking leave.
AMC women’s council chair Swan Lake Chief Francine Meeches told APTN that Dumas is simply “on holiday.”
When provided a copy of the widely-circulated press release that said Dumas is taking leave for grief counselling and sensitivity training while he he heals from this matter, she responded, “He’s on holiday. Big deal. So yea (sic) (APTN) did make things up.”
“APTN’s credibility is BS. It seems more are losing faith in your organization. You represent those who are against first Nations not in support of First Nations.”
According to the statement from the AMC, “Grand Chief Dumas has faced unthinkable tragedy and hardship throughout the last few years and he too has leaned on his staff, friends, colleagues and First Nation citizens for support. He realizes that perhaps he needs to take some time to deal with these tragedies instead of leaning so heavily on those around him.
“Despite his many losses, he has not taken off sufficient time to heal with his family.”
The AMC called the texting stories a “media circus” based on “unfounded allegations.”
More to come