Manitoba

Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs to elect grand chief on Wednesday

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs will elect a grand chief on Wednesday at its annual general assembly.

Internet and cell coverage in rural and remote communities a major topic of debate Tuesday

Left to right: Arlen Dumas, Sheila North and David Harper are all running to be grand chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. (Jaison Empson/CBC, Submitted by Sheila North, Trevor Hagan/The Canadian Press)

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs will elect a grand chief on Wednesday at its annual general assembly.

Incumbent Grand Chief Arlen Dumas is up for re-election against opponents Sheila North and David Harper — both of whom are past grand chiefs of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak.

If elected, North would be the first woman to hold the title of grand chief at AMC.

Prior to the vote, chiefs from around the province gathered outdoors at Long Plain First Nation on Tuesday to ask questions of the candidates.

A key question revolved around internet and cell access in rural and remote First Nations.

"It's not a luxury anymore, it's a lifeline for many of us and many of our elders," North said.

AMC grand chief candidates Sheila North, Arlen Dumas and David Harper took questions from chiefs on Tuesday. (Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs/Facebook)

Harper said that there's a huge disparity between the far north and the far south.

"We have to prioritize. That's what missing when it comes to business ventures," he said, adding that he'd sit down with government to pave a way forward.

Dumas said he'll gather the stakeholders together and push forward to improve connectivity, although a roadblock is the current government, which he described as "racist."

North said she hopes the discovery of more than a thousand unmarked graves on the lands of former residential schools helps create some movement toward reconciliation.

"We have the momentum right now to capture the minds," she said. 

AMC says it will live stream the election on its Facebook page on Wednesday.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rachel Bergen is a journalist for CBC Manitoba and previously reported for CBC Saskatoon. Find her on Twitter at @r_bergen or email her at rachel.bergen@cbc.ca.

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