Winnipeg police charge chief of Lake St. Martin First Nation with sexual assault


A First Nations chief in Manitoba is facing charges in the alleged sexual assault of a child.

Winnipeg police say Christopher Traverse was charged in February with sexual assault, sexual interference and child pornography.

Traverse is chief of Lake St. Martin First Nation, which is in the Interlake region about 270 kilometres north of Winnipeg.

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-age 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 July 3.

The Interlake Reserves Tribal Council, which consists of seven First Nations including Lake St. Martin, became aware of the allegations last week. Traverse is a board member with the organization.

Lake Manitoba First Nation Chief Cornell McLean, who chairs the tribal council board, said there is to be an emergency meeting next week to determine next steps. They may include asking Traverse to step down or suspending him until the case is resolved in court.

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs said in a statement it is not aware of the “particulars” of the charges. The organization added it does not comment on ongoing legal matters involving chiefs.

 he assembly said it supports the citizens of Lake St. Martin and is committed to working with its band council to ensure appropriate supports are made available.

   This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 10, 2024.

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