Indigenous Identity Fraud and the Right to Self-Identify

OTTAWA, ONTARIO – In response to recent events and dialogue around Indigenous identity, the National Consortium for Indigenous Medical Education (NCIME) and the Indigenous Physicians Association of Canada (IPAC) would like to extend our support to the Indigenous students, residents, doctors, and health researchers grappling with this at a personal and professional level.

Using a falsely claimed Indigenous identity to gain recognition, grants, and leadership positions is prevalent in government, academia, art, and literature. It is harmful and negatively contributes to underrepresentation, taking up space, and taking away opportunities, including the ability to make a living, from Indigenous peoples. Identity policing and fraud are the direct result of colonialism, and we must respect and uphold the honesty and accountability that come with claiming Indigenous identity. More extensive conversations about the right to self-identify and the development of a culturally safe validation process need to be had. It is important to acknowledge that Indigenous Nations are sovereign and have the right to determine their own membership/citizenship, apart from colonial blood quantum or Indian Status laws.

The NCIME and IPAC remain committed to supporting Indigenous leaders and learners. We recognize that this situation has caused much harm, stress, and insecurity, especially for those in the process of claiming or discovering their Indigenous identity. It is our sincere hope that this news does not discourage anyone from seeking their Indigeneity, community, or nation. The effects of colonization have disrupted many families, and we are inspired by those who are finding and reclaiming their identity and family connections.