Saskatchewan Experts Speak Out After Indigenous Identity Fraud Report Is Released


A year later, the University of Saskatchewan (USask) released a report titled Indigenous Identity Fraud, in light of questions about a former health professor and scientific director’s claims about her Métis ancestry.

Questions about Carrie Bourassa’s cultural identity came to light last November when she was unable to provide proof of her claims of Indigenous ancestry. This raised further questions about whether Bourassa was able to hold his positions.

Bourassa received an Excellence Award from the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation (SHRF) for his Indigenous research. She was named one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women of 2021 and even gave a TED talk about her experience as a Métis woman.

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Peaceful protest in USask after Dr. Carrie Bourassa was placed on administrative leave

The outcome of Bourassa’s ousting from his former roles revealed a deeper conversation in academia about self-identification as an Indigenous person.

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“Indigenous communities have for some time been concerned about people fraudulently claiming to be Indigenous in order to access resources and opportunities,” said Lori Campbell, Vice President of the Indigenous Engagement Association. from the University of Regina (U of R). .

« We’ve seen…certainly some of that in all organizations, but certainly a lot of that in universities. »

On November 5, 2021, the U of R released a statement on Indigenous identity following Bourassa’s failure to prove his cultural identity. They declared their commitment to establishing an Indigenous advisory body to work with university leadership to create an Indigenous credential system.

“Without compromising legislative requirements, we will develop policies and processes to verify claims of indigeneity in our recruiting and hiring practices to investigate allegations of Indigenous identity fraud,” the statement said.

The USask commissioned Jean Teillet, a lawyer and expert on Indigenous rights, to review the policy and practice recommendation on Indigenous identity verification. According to a statement from USask, their board of governors approved a new policy on Indigenous identity verification in July.

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USask places Dr. Carrie Bourassa on administrative leave

« The result of groundbreaking work by a task force led by Indigenous elders and leaders, » the statement said. “Now, Indigenous communities will decide what evidence is required when faculty, staff and students apply for positions or scholarships where they could gain material benefit.

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The report includes USask’s policies and procedures and recommendations such as partnerships with Indigenous peoples, continued care for USask’s Indigenous members, collective bargaining, and communications.

For a USask public policy professor, the university did the right thing by calling for the report instead of rushing out and making a rash decision.

“These will define the debates of the 21st century for all Indigenous groups in Canada,” said Ken Coates.

« (USask) has appointed a very accomplished attorney to look into the matter and look at the whole issue and see what more we can do. And I think the report itself is actually very reasonable. and very balanced.

The 86-page report can be viewed on the USask website.

Click to play the video: 'Peaceful protest in USask after Dr. Carrie Bourassa was placed on administrative leave'

Peaceful protest in USask after Dr. Carrie Bourassa was placed on administrative leave

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