Canadian universities, despite general mistrust of government-led efforts, are pushing to identify faculty members who encourage indigenous communities and falsely claim to have indigenous identities. increase.
In one recent example, Queen’s University apologized for an incident in which six faculty members were believed to have falsely claimed Indigenous status. Indigenous status is a designation that often results in organizational preferences in areas such as employment rights and scholarly content creation.
The university has issued a report promising to recognize as indigenous only those faculty members who have both indigenous citizenship and lived experience as an indigenous person.
The case came after her appointment as a professor of health at the University of Saskatchewan after her university pledged to pursue an investigation into her claims about indigenous heritage and to conduct a more general review of policy in this area. It followed the case of Carrie Brassa, who resigned from the position. .
About 1.7 million Canadians (about 5% of the country’s population) claim to be indigenous. Some Indigenous experts acknowledge that the criteria for assessing Indigenous identity are complex, differ among tribal communities and leaders, and often present difficult decisions to universities.
For years, Canadian universities have done a poor job negotiating the issue, according to Niigaanwewidam Sinclair, a professor of indigenous studies at the University of Manitoba.
More recently, however, Sinclair said:
The Queen’s case involved six faculty members identified a year earlier by a group of Indigenous scholars as having questionable allegations with Indigenous peoples. A newly issued report by the university, produced by an indigenous advisory firm hired by the university, includes recommendations that six people should not attend indigenous courses until they can prove they are indigenous. It includes the exclusion of six people from any position of influence.
Brassa, on the other hand, refers to her identity as Métis to a variety of cultural and ethnic identities with native and European origins, even though she was raised in a white, middle-class household of European origin. thought it was a term. It is located in Regina, the capital of Saskatchewan.
Sinclair did not comment on specific cases, but said that indigenous peoples of Canada see their identity as a matter of kinship rather than ancestry. Regardless, it cited a Toronto professor (who did not name) who was adopted into the Ojibwe community.
In another case, Sinclair said, a person with genealogical Indigenous descent but no connection to an Indigenous community may not be considered Indigenous. “Indigenous communities are very welcoming to people of many ancestry,” he said, referring to cases such as children being forcibly removed from Indigenous families. he said.
Attempts to impose definitions at the federal level are often rejected by indigenous communities as politically motivated, Sinclair said. must be created.”
It is so obscure that some universities seek guidance from indigenous leaders. Queens has pledged to establish an Indigenous Peoples Oversight Council made up of local Indigenous academics and community representatives.
This approach was endorsed by Murray Sinclair, Prime Minister of Queen’s University (and Sinclair’s father), a leading advocate for Canada’s Indigenous peoples and chairman of the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission. .
In announcing the council’s plans, Murray Sinclair said, “It is not the role of colonial institutions such as Queens to determine who is Indigenous.