Former CBC Manitoba host running to be next grand chief of Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs

A former CBC broadcaster and the past leader of an organization that represents dozens of northern First Nations is taking a second run at the top position with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs this fall.

Sheila North, who recently left her position as host of CBC Manitoba’s late night television newscast, is vying to be the next grand chief of AMC, which represents First Nations across the province. She would replace Arlen Dumas, who was officially removed from the position last month following allegations of sexual assault and harassment.

In a statement Wednesday, North said she is running for the position because “we as First Nations are at a critical time to reset our relationships and work towards unity for the greater good.”

North, a member Bunibonibee Cree Nation in northern Manitoba, previously served as grand chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, which represents northern First Nations. Before that, she spent more than a decade as a journalist, including stints at CBC and CTV.

She resigned from her position at CBC Manitoba last week, about one year after rejoining the news organization.

In May 2021, shortly before she returned to CBC, North announced she would run to be grand chief of AMC. She lost that election Dumas, who was the incumbent.

North also ran in the 2018 election to become grand chief of the national Assembly of First Nations, coming in second to Perry Bellegarde.

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs voted in August remove Dumas as grand chief. He had been suspended in March after a senior AMC staffer came forward with allegations of sexual assault and harassment. Another woman then came forward with misconduct allegations against him.

Days prior to the vote to formally remove him, Dumas announced via news release that he would seek trauma-based treatment to “begin healing not only from the events of the past five months but also a lifetime of trauma.” Dumas also took a leave of absence in 2019 after allegations against him surfaced on social media.

He has not been charged and none of the allegations have been proven in court.

After Dumas was suspended in March, AMC appointed Eric Redhead to serve as interim chief. Redhead stepped down in April to run for the NDP in a Thompson byelection that he subsequently won. He was replaced by interim Grand Chief Cornell McLean.

North said she is committed to advocating for the inherent treaty and basic human rights of First Nations.

In her statement, she acknowledged “AMC’s integrity and reputation have suffered over the recent years,” but said she is “prepared and willing to lead the ways through which all its members can rebuild AMC into a credible, valid and reliable political voice.”

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs byelection is scheduled to take place Oct. 25-27. Grand chiefs are elected for three-year terms.

CBC News has contacted the assembly to find out whether any other candidates have declared their plans to run for grand chief.

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