Federal health research funding agency cuts ties with Carrie Bourassa, who falsely claimed Indigenous ancestry

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Carrie Bourassa is out as the scientific director of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research's Institute of Indigenous Peoples' Health.  (Morgan Modjeski/CBC News - image credit)
Carrie Bourassa is out as the scientific director of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research's Institute of Indigenous Peoples' Health. (Morgan Modjeski/CBC News - image credit)

Canada's federal agency for funding health research has cut ties with University of Saskatchewan Prof. Carrie Bourassa, following a CBC News investigation casting doubt on her claims to Indigeneity.

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) made the announcement Wednesday afternoon.

Until recently, Bourassa was the scientific director of the Institute of Indigenous Peoples' Health (IIPH), one of 13 CIHR institutes. It provides much of the funding in Canada for health research focused on Indigenous people.

Last month, CBC News published an investigation showing there was no evidence for Bourassa's public claims to be of Métis, Anishinaabe and Tlingit ancestry. In her response to the report, Bourassa changed her story, claiming she was Métis because she was adopted by a Métis friend of her grandfathers.

A shock to many

Days after that report, the U of S and the CIHR put Bourassa on administrative leave. Today, in an emailed statement, CIHR said it "has decided to end its appointment of the scientific director of IIPH."

The organization said it "will engage immediately with the Indigenous health research community to establish a process for the appointment of a new Scientific Director of IIPH."

The revelations about Bourassa came as a shock to many in academia across Canada, especially in Indigenous circles, where Bourassa wielded a lot of power and influence. The CIHR says it's sensitive to that fact.

"Maintaining an ongoing dialogue with the Indigenous health research community is integral to strengthening our relationship and promoting reconciliation," said the emailed statement.

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