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Concern over Indigenous identity fraud heightened by government definitions: minister

Written by on June 21, 2024

OTTAWA — The Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations says a lot of talk about the issue of so-called Indigenous identity fraud is based around apprehensions people have about the government defining who is — and who isn’t — a rights-holder.

The topic of identity fraud came to a head last fall with a controversial bill in the House of Commons that sought to recognize Métis governments in three provinces.

First Nations and the Manitoba Métis Federation staunchly opposed the bill, citing concerns with one of the groups, while the federal government held firm it was required by court cases and the Constitution itself.

There have also been a number of high-profile cases of so-called Indigenous identity fraud, including a CBC News investigation into Buffy Sainte-Marie that alleged she was not Cree, but Italian.

Gary Anandasangaree says recognizing rights is “very difficult,” but decisions need to be made over the next few years, including about the recognition of Métis.

A major challenge is that the Indian Act still defines who is First Nations, leaving many people disenfranchised by what he called “arbitrary cutoffs.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 21, 2024.

The Canadian Press