Exposing “fake aborigines” in universities

In recent years, the media revealed cases of fraud. Thus, the identity of Métis, Anishinaabe, and Tlingite of Carrie Bourassa, a professor at the University of Saskatchewan, was called into question by the CBC in October 2021.

There was also Alexandra Lorange, the lecturer at the University of Quebec in Montreal, who claimed to be Atikamico, before two genealogists questioned her original roots.

Kari Burasa’s original origins have been questioned in an article on CBC.

Photo: (YouTube.com)

To avoid this kind of situation, the University of Manitoba has put in place verification mechanisms. Catherine Cook, Vice President (Indigenous), supports the university in its identification work.

In this institution, the first request is to ask if the candidate has a band card issued by the federal government. Self-identification without evidence is not enough.

A man holds two cards in his hands.

Indian Status Card is now required as proof by some universities.

Photo: Radio Canada/Ben Nelmez (CBC)

Those who do not have a card must provide other documents. Most of the time, they are not registered because they have lost their status due to intermarriage, adoption, emancipation, residential schools or the scoop of the sixties.

These people are indigenous without status. The community they claim to belong to is then surveyed and the community asked if they are willing to confirm the candidate.Ms. Cook explains.

In Manitoba, people know each other very well, and the bonds between people are very strong, so we are very comfortable with our way of doing things.she adds.

You have to be braver when you ask people who they are. »

Quote from Catherine Cook, Vice President (Indigenous) at the University of Manitoba

According to her, asking for documents proving Indian standing for professors is like asking for a professor’s diploma saying on his CV that he has a Ph.D.

When applying, you should feel able and comfortable to prove that you are an aboriginalsays Mrs. Cook.

Jay Friedman, President and Senior Partner of the consulting firm first people group Based in Ottawa, Queen’s University has hired them to develop mechanisms there as well to ensure that future employees who identify as Aboriginal actually are.

The man is standing in front of a painting representing a forest.

Jay Friedman, president and senior partner of the Ottawa-based consulting firm First People Group, has been hired by Queen’s University to develop mechanisms to confirm the professors’ Aboriginal identity.

Photo: Courtesy of: Guy Freedman

In June 2021, an anonymous report singled out six professors at this university, claiming that they were not indigenous. At that time, the university supported its professors.

The checks are important to Friedman, who says it’s not normal for some people to take advantage of Indigenous scholarships or job opportunities when they aren’t.

For Mr. Friedman and Ms. Cook, the communities must be fully involved in the process. Kind of delegation It is an authority which, according to Ms. Cook, is extremely important to societies.

This way of doing things gives them some independence. We thought it was important that the whole process be managed by the indigenous peopleshe explained.

It is not for the government to decide who we are, it is up to the communities to do so. »

Quote from Catherine Cook, Vice President (Indigenous) at the University of Manitoba

Check students too

At Laval University, we are currently interested in verifying the identity of Indigenous students who are applying for scholarships intended for them.

Portrait of a smiling woman.

Senator Michel Audet is Senior Adviser for Reconciliation and Indigenous Education at Université Laval.

Photo: Radio Canada/Alexander Millet Gagnon

Henceforth, candidates must show their credentials by being registered or registered as members of one of the indigenous peoples clearly identified by the institution.

There is also a specific list of documents that students can submit, such as a band card or a statement from the community.

Senator Michele Audet, who is also the Senior Adviser for Reconciliation and Indigenous Education at Laval University, has worked on these issues. It calls for the participation of states.

this discussion [sur l’identité autochtone, NDLR] This should be done in our leaders and not in universities. [En attendant]we have to rely on outdated tools. »

Quote from Michel Audet, Senior Adviser for Reconciliation and Indigenous Education at Université Laval

And she adds: You don’t have to pretend you’re not something you’re into. We value alliances. When you think of some of the people who claimed the original people Without being, she admits that she felt deceive.

Regarding the situation of the unregistered indigenous people, she noted that the university had not set anything yet, but was studying the best decision that could be made.

According to Ms. Cook, it’s important to go beyond mere self-declaration. If no clear tag is attached, We risk seeing scams as we’ve seen them recurshe believes.

counter ideas

Sebastian Mallet, Mr. Carlton, who struggles to recognize the East conclusion, The concept of Native Americans is a legal construct.

Sebastian Mallet sitting in a garden.

Carleton University professor Sebastian Mallet believes that using a range map to identify Indigenous people is not a good solution.

Photo: Radio Canada

According to him, the use of Indian cards to identify indigenous people is irrelevant. These cards come from organizations that are recognized at the government level and some have been recognized over time. It is very likely that some of the organizations will become unrecognized at a later time. Meanwhile, its members are discriminated againsthe argues.

As for the idea of ​​surveying communities to attest to the affiliation of an unregistered member, it is problematic, he believes.

We fall into the concept of a somewhat excessively romantic society. It is the belief that local experience and the norm of a homogeneous community. »

Quote from Sebastian Mallet, Professor at Carleton University

Mr Mallet believes that self-determination and proof of ancestral ties will suffice.

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