AMC condemns alleged actions of First Nation chief charged with sexual assault

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs is condemning the alleged actions of a First Nation chief, and is barring him from future events, after he was charged with the alleged sexual assault of a child.

In a statement posted on AMC’s website Friday, Grand Chief Cathy Merrick called the allegations faced by Lake St. Martin First Nation Chief Christopher Traverse ‘serious and profoundly distressing.’

“While I recognize that this Chief has been charged and not convicted of these offences, I want to make it clear that the AMC unequivocally condemns the actions he is accused of,” the statement reads.

Traverse was charged in February with sexual assault, sexual interference and child pornography.

Court records say the alleged offences happened on Dec. 29 and that Traverse was released on bail.

Police say the case involves an elementary-school-aged child.

Traverse did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Canadian Press, but told CBC he is innocent and would not be resigning.

He is set to appear in provincial court on July 3.

None of the charges have been tested in court.

Cathy Merrick, Grand Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, speaks to media in response to a federal announcement for a feasibility study to search a local landfill in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Friday, February 10, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

Merrick said given the severe nature of the charges, Traverse will not be welcome to attend any AMC events until the charges are resolved.

At that point, Chiefs will give further direction, she said.

“I wish to extend my support to the children and families affected by these recent events,” the statement said.

“I have reached out to the Council of the Lake St. Martin First Nation to offer assistance from the AMC during this challenging time.”

– With files from The Canadian Press

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