In October of 1988, the Chiefs of Manitoba held a special assembly to address the need for devising strategies and mechanisms to coordinate political action and to identify the technical work they would require to address common issues and concerns facing their communities.
In March of 1989, the Chiefs of Manitoba formally ratified four existing Chiefs Committees, which were:
- Chiefs Committee on Child Welfare;
- Chiefs Committee on Economic Issues;
- Chiefs Committee on Self-determination and Treaties; and
- Chiefs Committee on Health and Social Development.
The Chiefs also recognized the need to establish a Secretariat to provide support and technical assistance to the Chiefs Committees. The Chiefs elected Chief Louis Stevenson of the Peguis First Nation as the Provincial Indian Leader on an interim basis until the structure of the Assembly was developed. This structure was developed for the Executive Council, which was composed of representatives from the four Chiefs Committees.
The structure of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs was outlined in a discussion paper entitled, A Model for Political Coordination and Cooperation in Manitoba for the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and Its Secretariat. This document was ratified by the Executive Council on April 18, 1991. The Manitoba Chiefs firmly believe that their political leadership and decision making must be based upon the traditional value system.
This belief is reflected in the Model as follows:
- Share the duties and responsibilities of leadership;
- Do not interfere with our respective authority and jurisdiction;
- Respect each other individually and collectively as people;
- Honour the commitments we make as binding upon us until we collectively agree to change any particular commitment;
- Implement the decision we make together for common strategies and initiatives;
- Seek harmony in all our dealings and relations with each other as individuals, Chiefs, and collectives;
- Strive for consensus in our decision making at the Assembly and in its various units and mechanisms; and
- Trust and support the leaders we elect or appoint to act on our behalf.
Participation in a coordinated and cooperative political system by the First Nations’ peoples and communities is accomplished through elected representatives. These representatives consist of the 62 Chiefs of the Manitoba First Nations whose primary responsibility is to ensure that they represent their communities needs and aspirations at the political level.
To better address and facilitate their unified political action, the Chiefs-in-Assembly established a secretariat composed of technical advisors and support staff to ensure that the mandates and direction granted at the Assemblies is respected, advanced, coordinated, and implemented.
In summary, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs is the result of the Chiefs of Manitoba recognizing the need for a province wide organization that would give the First Nations a stronger more unified voice when dealing with political issues while respecting each First Nation’s inherent sovereignty. The Secretariat was established to ensure that the mandates and direction granted at the Assemblies is respected, advanced, coordinated, and implemented.
The mission of AMC, is through the Chiefs-in-Assembly, to devise collective and common political strategies and mechanisms for coordinated action by First Nations and their organizations to:
- Promote, preserve, and project Aboriginal and Treaty rights for First Nation people in Manitoba;
- Preserve and enhance the rights and freedoms of First Nations in Manitoba as distinct peoples;
- Strengthen and restore the foundations of First Nations cultures, traditions, languages, economies, and societies;
- Affirm First Nation rights as peoples to exercise and practice self-determination and self-government;
- Protect the integrity and authority of each First Nation’s customs, laws, and practices; and
- Preserve and enhance the role and equal participation of First Nation women within political, economic and social spheres of First Nation governments and organizations.
For the greater certainty, the AMC will function as a political coordinating entity only on the common issues and strategies mandated by the Chiefs-in-Assembly and not as a program and service delivery entity.
The AMC will support specific First Nations issues as mandated by the Chiefs-in-Assembly.
- To ensure respect of our culture, our diversity, our independence and our distinctiveness.
- To practice tolerance, consensus and strive for harmony.
- To unite our strength to maintain our security, traditions and nationhood.
- To utilize domestic and international means for the promotion of the political, economic, spiritual and social advancement of our peoples.
- To join together our First Nations in political unity and solidarity for the collective advancement of our peoples on issues of common interest.
- To improve the quality of life among our people.
- To protect our First Nation governments from further encroachment and to prevent any action by any Nation, group, jurisdiction or government from violating the integrity and freedoms of self-determination and from violating individual and collective rights of First Nations.
- To reaffirm our belief in the sovereign equality of Nations and the fundamental rights of First Nation peoples.
- To seek justice for the obligations arising from our International Treaties.
- To promote and ensure social progress, harmony and the quality of life among our peoples.