A woman who filed a complaint against Manitoba’s top First Nations chief has made her name public.
Shauna Fontaine took to social media after an open letter was sent to the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) calling on the organization to launch an inquiry into the conduct of Grand Chief Arlen Dumas.
Dumas was suspended in March pending a workplace investigation launched by the AMC following the complaint by Fontaine, who is a senior staff member with the organization.
Fontaine said in a Facebook post on Wednesday she wants the AMC to be more supportive of victims after advocates called on the organization to launch a more fulsome inquiry into Dumas’s conduct.
Fontaine, a member of Sagkeeng First Nation, identified herself as the woman who filed a workplace complaint in March against Dumas.
Fontaine, who was unavailable for an interview Thursday, alleges she was harassed, sexualized and assaulted by Dumas and has lived in fear of losing her job for bringing forward her concerns to the AMC where both she and Dumas work.
“I was victimized by this man, a person in power, a protected man,” Fontaine said on Facebook. “In my heart, speaking out was and will always be the right thing to do.”
Fontaine said she also filed a complaint with the Winnipeg Police Service (WPS).
The WPS has previously said an incident number has been generated.
Dumas, who CTV News has reached out to for comment, has not been charged and none of the allegations have been tested in court.
He remains suspended by the AMC and will face a non-confidence vote once a workplace investigation into Fontaine’s complaint is finished.
But Fontaine isn’t happy with how it’s being conducted.
“I do not feel supported by the process undertaken,” she said. “I learn what is happening via updates with the investigation just the same as the public does, via news releases, never receiving communications with me or my legal representation.”
Earlier this week advocates sent an open letter to the AMC, which Fontaine added her name to, calling for an independent commission of inquiry into Dumas’s conduct that is trauma-informed, co-developed and co-led by the AMC and victim advocates.
Sandra DeLaronde, the letter’s lead signatory, said it’s because other women have come forward with complaints about Dumas’s behaviour.
“We wanted that to happen where they are supported and acknowledged by AMC,” DeLaronde said in an interview.
DeLaronde, who previously co-chaired Manitoba’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Coalition, said she’s concerned Fontaine felt she had to come forward to support other victims.
“Now that she has come forward on behalf of other victims there should be no reason why AMC will not call for an independent inquiry,” DeLaronde said.
In a statement Tuesday, the AMC said it’s following legal workplace obligations to ensure the investigation is done in a fair and impartial way.
“As the independent workplace investigation is currently in progress, the AMC cannot undertake any process that would jeopardize its legal obligations in relation to the investigation,” the AMC said.
Fontaine feels the AMC could be more supportive of those bringing forward allegations.
“My name is now officially public,” she said. “And I encourage AMC to accept the opportunity for support from a trauma-informed healing centred lens.”
The AMC acknowledged several advocates have offered assistance with the process and that the organization appreciates their intentions.
It said more information will be shared with the public at the conclusion of the investigation.
According to the AMC, the investigation is nearing completion and it is anticipated the investigator’s report will be presented to its personnel and finance committee by the end of this month.