Demonstration planned at U of Sask. to call for investigations into Indigenous identity fraud

·1 min read
The protest will begin at the Gordon Oakes Red Bear Centre at noon. (Jason Warick/CBC - image credit)
The protest will begin at the Gordon Oakes Red Bear Centre at noon. (Jason Warick/CBC - image credit)

A group is planning a peaceful demonstration on the University of Saskatchewan campus to demand investigations into staff and faculty who may be misrepresenting their Indigenous background at colleges across the country.

The Matriarchs, Clan Mothers, Aunties and Allies group will meet on campus Friday to ask for "transparent reviews and decisive action" to remove anyone from a role or position related to an unsubstantiated claim of Indigeneity.

"We call upon the universities in Canada and other institutions sheltering non-Indigenous employees to immediately, in accordance with the 2017 CAUT policy statement on whistleblowers, STOP silencing, isolating and retaliating against identity fraud whistleblowers," read a news release from the group.

The protest comes after a CBC investigation into Carrie Bourassa, a University of Saskatchewan professor and the scientific director of the Indigenous health arm of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

CBC found there was no evidence Bourassa was Indigenous, despite her having claimed to be so many times over the past 20 years.

This week, Bourassa was placed on unpaid leave from both institutions pending an investigation.

Bourassa was initially supported by both the U of S and the CIHR, which stated that her work had greatly benefited the health of communities across Canada.

She told CBC she had hired a genealogist to help investigate her ancestry two years ago, but so far has not offered any genealogical evidence to back up her claims.

The CBC investigation has led to outrage among many Indigenous academics who are concerned that the incident will make people in the community mistrust academic research.

Organizers of Friday's protest are inviting Indigenous faculty, students, supporters and allies to gather at the Gordon Oakes Red Bear Student Centre at noon.

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