Native heritage hoax? Canadian indigenous health expert suspended after doubts raised about whether she is indeed indigenous

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A Canadian public health expert who self-identifies as part Tlingit, and part other North American Native, has been placed on leave by the University of Saskatchewan after an investigation by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation found that she has no Native heritage, but is actually of European descent.

Carrie Bourassa, who also calls herself Morning Star Bears, was the subject of a CBC investigation. She is a professor at the university and is the scientific director of the Institute of Indigenous Peoples’ Health for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, which also suspended her last week.

On Friday, Bourassa, through an anonymous group, claimed that she has the right to “self-identify as an Indigenous Person, within the greater family of Indigenous Peoples in Canada.” She asserted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act “confirms and legally supports her to Self- identify as an Indigenous Person.”

Read the original CBC investigative story here.

Bourassa’s news release says that the investigation was instigated by a colleague who has attempted to defame her in previous occasions.

A statement released by her Bourassa’s sister Jody Burnett on behalf of her family says Bourassa’s “description of our family is inaccurate, not rooted in fact and moreover is irrelevant to the issue of whether or not Carrie Bourassa is Métis.”

According to the CBC, Bourassa has for 20 years said that she was born into a family with” Métis, Anishnaabe and Tlingit roots” but has not provided documentation to support her claims.

Bourrassa’s defense statement to the media did not address the problem of her potential heritage hoax, but said she has a legal right to call herself indigenous:

“Dr. Carrie Bourassa responds to the investigation of her cultural identity Manācihitowin: a Cree/Michif phrase that translates to ‘let us respect each other’ REGINA, SK – Dr. Carrie Bourassa asserts and claims the right to self-identify as an Indigenous Person, within the greater family of Indigenous Peoples in Canada. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Canada’s Legislation Bill C-15: the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act confirms and legally supports her to Self- identify as an Indigenous Person. Combined, the International UNDRIP standard and now Canadian Law provides her Métis Heritage, Culture, Status and Citizenry the necessary legal coverage. In spite of flawless work performance, Dr. Carrie Bourassa was previously investigated for alleged misconduct, instigated by a colleague who has been persistent in her attempts to defame Dr. Bourassa. Carrie was cleared on all 5 counts of the baseless complaints and is now being subjected to another investigation by the University of Saskatchewan. She is a valued and respected academic and community health researcher and she is entitled to due-process.

As a result, many people now question the U of S’ ability to protect faculty members whose credibility is challenged and called into question by their peers. It should be noted that the institution did not exercise any form of internal resolution or protections for Dr. Bourassa and as a result, the internal issue has been degraded to a public spectacle led by journalists and not by Indigenous people.

The current investigation has become a national issue of debate and the discussion appears to be setting precedence for quantum criteria for Nationhood, challenging the communities right to claim and custom adopt. This poses multiple and multidimensional threats to ALL Indigenous persons globally, as public debate surrounding Indigenous identity seeks to eradicate decades of work of global Indigenous leaders who fought and won sovereignty over the ability to determine who is, and who is not, Indigenous. Determining Indigeneity is not within the purview of the U of S or any other non-Indigenous led institution. Currently, the only jurisdiction for Institutions/workplaces, etc. is self-declaration. Furthermore, Dr. Bourassa’s employment is not determined by nationhood and she is not in an Indigenous designated role within the U of S, but rather is an Indigenous health leader from within the faculty of Community Health and Epidemiology in the College of Medicine as a tenured professor.

Dr. Carrie Bourassa has not falsely identified as Indigenous nor taken space away from Indigenous peoples, either in the form of student funding, grants or career advancements. She has earned her professional status and merit through hard work, self-funding and sheer determination. She is a catalyst for determining indigeneity in Indigenous communities, grassroots and globally. Officially claimed by traditional medicine people and her Métis people, long before being Métis had any benefits.

NOTE: This statement was prepared by an Indigenous collective who chose anonymity at this time, to minimize additional backlash and punitive action in the forms of lateral violence towards themselves and Dr. Bourassa. Lateral violence is a learned behaviour as a result of internalised colonialism and patriarchal methods of governing and developing a society. 

91 COMMENTS

  1. We knew this was coming. I wonder if I can “self-identify” as a illegal immigrant to get free food, housing and health care benefits and not have to pay taxes!

      • I grew up listening to black rap artist and most of my friends were black from all different regions of the world. My first girlfriend was black.. can I identify as black ? Can I say to people I am black because I identify with black people more than white people ? Wtf world do we live in? Where saying I identify as something supercedes all genetic, biological facts. To what degree do I have to Participate in your self identification. These people are destroying the fabric of society, perverting and twisting reality so they can feel like themselves. Is this not insanity?

    • What evidence do you have that, “illegal immigrant[s] … get free food, housing and health care benefits and not have to pay taxes?”

      • “https://www.nilc.org/issues/economic-support/overview-immeligfedprograms/”
        “……..Exceptions to the Restrictions
        The law includes important exceptions for certain types of services. Regardless of their immigration status, not-qualified immigrants are eligible for emergency Medicaid[19] if they are otherwise eligible for their state’s Medicaid program.[20] The law does not restrict access to public health programs that provide immunizations and/or treatment of communicable disease symptoms (whether or not those symptoms are caused by such a disease). School breakfast and lunch programs remain open to all children regardless of immigration status, and every state has opted to provide access to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).[21]
        Short-term noncash emergency disaster assistance remains available without regard to immigration status. Also exempted from the restrictions are other in-kind services necessary to protect life or safety, as long as no individual or household income qualification is required. In 2001, the U.S. attorney general published a final order specifying the types of benefits that meet these criteria. The attorney general’s list includes child and adult protective services; programs addressing weather emergencies and homelessness; shelters, soup kitchens, and meals-on-wheels; medical, public health, and mental health services necessary to protect life or safety; disability or substance abuse services necessary to protect life or safety; and programs to protect the life or safety of workers, children and youths, or community residents.[22]………”
        Now that evidence is provided, my bet is that you will discard it and maintain that illegal immigrants do not receive benefits. What evidence do you have that you will accept this evidence?

        • From your link. Specifically, it calls out undocumented immigrants as not qualified.

          “The “qualified” immigrant category includes:
          • lawful permanent residents, or LPRs (people with green cards)
          • refugees, people granted asylum or withholding of deportation/removal, and conditional entrants
          • people granted parole by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for a period of at least one year
          • Cuban and Haitian entrants
          • certain abused immigrants, their children, and/or their parents [4]
          • certain survivors of trafficking [5]
          individuals residing in the U.S. pursuant to a Compact of Free Association (COFA) (for Medicaid purposes only)[6]

          All other immigrants, including undocumented immigrants, as well as many people who are lawfully present in the U.S., are considered “not qualified.”[7]”

      • My ex, telling me about the refugee she had to deal with 4 hours a week at providence. Unable to speak English, arrived in a newer vehicle, received 40 hour a week pay check, lived in a free house, and also was granted public assistance for feeding her family. Do you think catholic social services is in the refugee business for nothing? You are wrong. The taxpayers are providing the American dream and filling the social services pockets.

    • And I will self-identify as separated from my family at the border, under the Trump administration, for a crack at $450,000.

  2. Leave her alone and let her do her job. Everybody believed Pocahontas when she said she was Cherokee. What’s it got to do with their job? Isn’t everybody related to Kevin Bacon anyway? We’re all the same.

    • Greg, since you apparently have not been paying attention, I will attempt to inform you. We are not all the same. Our culture is segregated into an endless number of identity classes. These identities are based upon race, gender, religion, politics, veteran status, handicaps, age, sexual orientation, vaccination, etc, etc, etc. If you happen to belong to a certain class, you are “entitled” to unique rights and privileges accorded to that class. If you are fortunate enough to belong to more than one such class you then enjoy the status of intersectionality…. whereby you can harvest privileges accorded to each of the classes to which you belong. In short, belonging to various classes endows one with a form of victimhood-entitlement status… resulting in special privileges and free stuff. It is a game we are compelled to play. The human condition make it predictable that many will lie and cheat to obtain free stuff and privileges. See Rachel Dolezal and Elizabeth Warren as examples.
      ..
      The facts I describe are now the daily reality of American life. However, we are seeing signs of impending change as both our society and economy inexorably unravel. The time for glorifying ourselves is coming to an end.

      • I didn’t think there were multiple genders nowadays. I just meant that we’re all homosapiens. I didn’t think I was going to get all the racist homophobe classroom antics but I appreciate that.

        • Perhaps you were not listening. There are not multiple genders nowadays. Our culture has simply constructed that idea to provide a means for some to identify as victims thereby entitling them to more privileges and free stuff than you or I.

        • You’re kinda like a parrot, aren’t you? Lots of noise but nothing going on between the ears.
          .
          Point out the exact words in Wayne’s post that were racist. After you’ve failed that, point out the exact words that were homophobic.
          .
          Good God, man. Don’t you have a brain? THINK before you type. The adults are talking.

      • Wayne Coogan, don’t I know you? You are a very successful General Contractor if I am not mistaken. I believe that you are the son of an immigrant and understand the hard scrabble it takes to be successful.
        I commend you for your description of the problems stated above. I might add though that the Universe is set up to run in an orderly manner. The things you describe above run counter to that order and are chaotic, leading to disorder. Nature abhors a vacuum as they say and so does the governing of man. If a people are unable to be self governing because of their foolishness, sloth, envy or avarice a strong man will eventually arrive to bring order. Often the order of a Strong man is a terrible thing and isn’t pretty.
        Good order is the foundation of all things good and a people will never give up their liberties which are the fruit of this order unless they have been deluded. I fear we are in an age of delusion Mr. Wayne Coogan. Hold fast and fear not!

    • “……..Everybody believed Pocahontas when she said she was Cherokee……..”
      No, “everybody” did not. In fact, to this day, I know that she is lying whenever her lips move.

      • I think you only have to be 132nd Cherokee to belong to that tribe. My tribe the Choctaw, you only have to be 1/8. All tribes are different. Even Burt Reynolds claim to be 1/8 Seminole or something like that. At least he looked like a native.

  3. Another Elizabeth Warren… or maybe she just identifies as a Native American? Doesn’t that count anymore? LOL

      • Really? So you thought this comment board for politically-charged articles on a conservative news site was for the purpose of exchanging cookie recipes?
        .
        You have hope. I believe there is actually counseling now available for snow-flake syndrome.

  4. That sounds like a cushy gig. Maybe I’ll shave off my flaming red beard and self identify as an indigenous woman. Do they have dental?

  5. She has two options either take a DNA test or admit she is wrong.

    It is sad that people seeking a way to be indigenous to benefit themself an opportunity to advance a position and money.

    Just like Senator Elizabeth Warren who took advantage of claiming her heritage and received a large number of government funds to finish her college and took a huge speaking fee to a college discussing Native American subjects.

    I am saddened that these people would snoop this low to get something they want over real indigenous applicants not accepted over limited awards.

    I am an Alaska Native and I am very proud of my heritage and I am positive ID and registered with the BIA. So there is no way that I am fake.

    • There is no benefits to being white.. that’s why anyone with any mix in them always identifies as the colored gene in them. Nobody ever identifies as white if they don’t have to.. zero privilege in that.

      • Yeah, that and if you wear a white pride shirt down the street or White lives matter you get rocks thrown at your car at best bullets at worst. The only people that can be racist are white people. Everybody else gets a bye, because probably sometime in their culture’s history they were crapped upon in some way so everybody else has it coming and it’s okay to give somebody the stink eye if you are a person of color.

  6. There is focus to this article on the wrong elements of this story. It is a family tragedy that some members focus on their cultural identity based upon long-held family history while others seek to damage her credibility, and cancel her career. Genetic heritage is distinct from cultural heritage and an evolving science as technological advances reveal more and finer details of ourselves. None of the family members interviewed can be considered reliable in that their lives are built upon the truths they choose to tell and withhold.
    Dr. Bourassa has promoted herself in a public sphere and evolved her own story to reach out to her audience. There is no question about her academic accomplishments. She has been a driving force in the academic community and facilitated health improvement for indigenous and other Canadian communities through her research and community service. That she is now being cancelled from all those accomplishments, those earned academic credentials, reads more like a Progressive/Liberal/Academic Elite backlash for their feeling foolish to have acknowledged her previously. This is cruel. This is unnecessary. This is detrimental to the indigenous and academic communities she has served long and well. To focus on her supposed “stolen” indigeneity is to dismiss and ignore all the good she has done.

    • If you are comfortable with someone who obviously lies to then tell the truth in all other matters, you are probably better than Jesus.

    • “To focus on her supposed “stolen” indigeneity is to dismiss and ignore all the good she has done.”

      No, the two are not mutually exclusive. And, regardless, the ends cannot justify the means.

      She is a liar based on the testimony of her own family. That does not “negate” any actions she has taken in the past, but neither can her actions justify her lies. It is perfectly reasonable to check any other truth claims implicit to her work for accuracy, as her deceptiveness on one issue itself opened the door.

  7. I love this! Canadian Bill C16, which not only tells you what you can NOT say, tells you what you MUST say. Only in tyrannical dictatorships has compelled speech become law. Canada? Yup. And already came to a country near you! Example: If I identify as a woman (although being a man) and tell you to address me with pronouns of she and her or something I make up, and you use he or him, I now have the power of law to sue you because…feelings.
    THIS professor’s problem is the result of abandoning all reason for the sake of someone’s feelings, and then codifying it into law.
    If everyone is a winner, there are no winners. We know this.
    If ANYone can identify as a Tlingit, then NOone is a Tlingit. What an insult.
    And appropriately, anyone who objects wants to remain anonymous. After all, the law will punish you AFTER your society has canceled you.
    Now, I’ll go back to identifying as a 6’6″ Chinese woman, at least this week…

      • You do however have all the standing you need to summon your lefty pals and all the ignorant Fascist liberal Democrat wannabe social justice activists to cancel someone’s career. This column has triggered a whole bunch of them. Check out this article in the National Association of Scholars and do the work yourself: “https://www.nas.org/blogs/article/tracking-cancel-culture-in-higher-education”

          • Evan, why is it that you respond to every demonstrated case of contemporary leftist authoritarianism and cancel-culture intolerance by falsely claiming it to be mere “hyperbole”? Can’t you see REALITY starting you squarely in the face?

  8. More blind skin colored racism. Pull these stunts in Western Europe claiming “indigenous heritage” and you’ll be branded racist from the off. What gives in the Americas? #whenbornhereyouareindigenous #colorblind

  9. Unlike the Elizabeth Warren hoax, where Ms. Warren rode her “native heritage” scam into a tenured position at one of the nation’s premier universities, the Canadians caught this faker and put the boots to her. Good job.

  10. It matters not what race, religion, country, or skin color anyone has. We are all residents of the same universe.

    I am finding the more people try to identify themselves with labels, the more divided they become within.

    Our bodies are vehicles of our physical experience, but they do not represent everything that we are.

  11. Yeah I’m 1/4 crushacan from old Milwaukee tribe. I self identify…….so………science and laws.

  12. At some point the Woke “Intersectionalists” will have society so sub-categorized that they will eventually end up where our Founders were 250 years ago. Namely, that we are all unique individuals put on this earth by our Creator with inalienable rights and unique gifts put here for His benefit and the benefit of others.

  13. You aren’t Irish! You don’t look Irish! Prove it! Timmie!!! Just because you have red hair, a bad temper, are wearing a kilt, tooting on the bagpipes, and drinking Guiness while dancing a little jig like everybody else in yer little red-headed family means nuttin Timmie!!! Prove it Timmie!

  14. Recognition and learning the native ways in Alaska will only help us be to a better state.
    But the same needed people need to come to grips, one people need to realize that they were born on one Earth.
    So that makes us all one people.

  15. Don’t you think that all kinds of other people all over the Earth are sick of this crap that’s going on? You are not alone. To think you are is complete selfishness.

  16. With her logic, I could self-identify as a STARFLEET Captain…….Hey Mr. Spock did you double-park the Enterprise again???
    She may do a fine job, but to feather her cap with credentials that are not hers, is deceitful, especially if she received preferential treatment and ingratiated herself into the native community solely based on her “self-identification”.

    • I’m native but I would never be accepted as such outside my own tribe. My Irish blend hurts this. Most villages that I have lived in in Alaska don’t accept anyone outside their own village. Sometimes a small world shrinks someone’s thinking capacity. They’re not able to think outside the box.

    • We are in a bad place when one’s race is considered a “credential.”

      • Wayne, you are correct, “credentials” is a bit of hyperbole on my part, however some carry their race/heritage as a badge of honor these days, which they believe entitles them to special treatment. BLM being the most recent example.

        • Oh, and remember there were senators from around here, who voted for an Interior Secretary, because she was an indigenous woman. Seems that’s all the qualifications one needs these days for that kind of job…..

  17. I’m sorry, I just find this hilarious. Of course she’ is ‘ native! By the wacky wokey standards anyway/ Certainly if myriads of adults and even children can now ‘identify’ as a gender, or genders, or no genders, that are not their genetic own, why cannot the good Professor be a race genetically not her own? Sure seems all the same to me. Sooooo messed up.

  18. This woman would fit in well in Alaska! Many years ago I was working on a state senate campaign with a local Filipino leader. He was a generation older than me. He mentioned that ANCSA had devastated the Filipino community, especially in the case of prosperous and educated men. I had absolutely no clue what he meant. He said that many Filipinos chose to be Tlingit to enroll in Native corporations. He said, “Who is going to choose to be Filipino when there is $1 billion and 44 million acres being handed out?” That $1 billion has been spent, and in southeastern the acreage has been entirely cleared, but there are jobs, including University professorships, free college education, grants of every sort, federal no-bid contracts, and programs on top of programs. Yes, this woman could probably be teaching at UAS by the spring semester.

  19. Why should it matter? These days, the only thing that appears to matter is what YOU identify as. And if you can choose sex, which is set at the cellular level at conception, on a whim, why then can you not choose what race or mixture of races you identify as? You can then change that identification from time to time on any number of following whims. Best of all, under the current rules, nobody is allowed to question your choice. The left is not gonna enjoy playing under their new rules. Cheers –

  20. I think the capstone message for all Alaskans is that choosing to identify as white is a waste. It will hold back your community, your children and grandchildren, and the state. Whatever you choose on any governmental form DO NOT CHOOSE WHITE.

  21. I found some grease on my right hand so I’m self identifying as an airplane mechanic. I’m getting a job at Ted Stevens airport, doing maintenance on 737s.

    Try not to be worried on your next flight to Seattle. I really really really BELIEVE I’m an aircraft mechanic, so that makes it all okay.

  22. I identify as a descendent of the origin of the species, be that origin the ‘big bang’, ‘let there be light’, or any other construct of the species…

    As such, I am due any benefit or penalty of said descension no matter where I, as an individual, exist within this present ‘form’…

    I wonder, honestly, what does my present form matter based upon the all encompassing descension that I, and each other individual upon this rock share?

    It does not matter, and should not matter, because said descension makes the all of us equal within that regard, as individuals…

    But yet….

    Sides are chosen, benefits are given, penalties are meted out, over not our common descension, but through the process of self identified separation not through individualism and merit, but through a unified adolescent angst within that those that belong unto the same descension as we all, choose to
    believe that they, themselves, are no longer an individual, but rather a part of childish clique, within that they feel they have achieved some supposed power, that they themselves, as individuals, within their own self belief, could not attain within their own individuality, but only attain as part of a group they see as beneficial unto them, no matter that their own descension actually includes them within that group regardless, and so it must be named, and exploited unto their individual benefit, to allay their weakness as an individual, or origin descendent…that is an individual choice, and a choice of weakness…even though an individual may be weak, many seek said same weak individuals to bond with, within the mistaken thought process that said bonding shall make them strong, though it never shall…because no matter how many of them bond, as each individual is weak, the bonding of them shall be weak as well…

    Weakness resides within the individual, just as strength resides within the individual…it is a matter of choice and conviction…strength can stand alone…weakness cannot stand without others joining them, and even within the gathering of other weak individuals, no matter the numbers, they are still weak, whilst the singular strong individual can still stand against them through resolve and simple forthrightness….

    The weak shall attempt to bully the strong as the weak feel they were once bullied by the strong, even if their perception of said bullying was mistaken because of their own self identified weakness, in which they react unto each and every self perceived affront as one that is from exterior forces, when, in fact, all affronts unto them are self perceived and self inflicted, but they refuse to see said affront as such, and shall never take responsibility unto themselves, or their self hatred, but project said self hatred unto those they see as other than themselves that hold themselves within a sense of individual strength, and that is the cusp of the matter…

    The weak feel the strong as bullies, simply because the strong are not weak, and the weak cannot overcome the strong based upon their own weakness, therefore it is the strong that is the enemy, no matter that it is the weak that have created their own process, over and over again…

  23. How curious. I googled “List of Trump Lies” and got hundreds of websites with lists of “every lie Trump spoke during his Presidency”. Looks like the number is around 30,570. Oh, and 925 “mean tweets”.
    .
    So. It’s imperative to keep online lists of lies told by Trump, but this lie about a liberal’s indigeneity is unimportant? Trivial? Non-starter? Nothing to see here? Move along, you say?
    .
    Why, exactly is that? What is the difference, other than liberal hypocrisy? Please, someone explain this.

  24. “…slavery was a common practice among the Tlingits and all the tribes of the Northwest Coast. Estimates suggest that one-third of the Tlingit population during the mid-1800s were slaves … slaves were important for their labor and their value in trade … slavery played a major role in the cultural forms such as potlatches, art production and ritual activities … The slavery system in the United States, including the indigenous systems, legally ended with the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution which abolished slavery in 1865. However, it persisted among the Tlingit until the early 1900s.” Rosita Worl
    How many of those slaves were taken from other tribes? The status of tribal slaves was not raised for ANCSA, There are many registered as Tlingit, receiving all of the benefits of tribal membership; but who’s genetic ancestry ranges from along the American West coast, and even from some inland tribes.
    The decision isn’t up to non-tribal persons. If the tribes Carrie Bourassa claims to be of, decide to certify, or simply not contest her heritage claims, then she has the legal tribal standing that she claims. Even the BIA recognizes tribal authority over membership issues.

    • I know a white woman who was adopted by an American Indian couple in infancy. Her (adopted) parents had fourteen miscarriages before she was adopted. After she was adopted her parents managed to have several more natural children. They are all tribal members. She experienced all that reservation life entails. Alaska natives don’t choose to associate with her because they are just as racist as the next guy.

      • If a Native villager manages to attend college, it’s sometimes that they’re not very welcome back home because they’ve become “too white”.
        Back in the 90’s I read an article in the Tanana paper, by a Venetie Native woman, who stated “Just because one of your parents was Native, doesn’t make you Native.”
        You’re correct. many Natives can be, and often are just as racist as anyone else. However, just like all other races, it’s usually just a small minority.

  25. I self identify simultaneously as a 300 lb woman named Olga from Sweden and a Playboy Bunny. Taking selfies for TikTok is more fun this way.

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