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Concern over Indigenous identity fraud heightened by government definitions: minister

Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Gary Anandasangaree speaks in the Foyer of the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Monday, June 3, 2024. The Canadian Press/Spencer Colby

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 SA国际影视传媒 and who isnSA国际影视传媒檛 SA国际影视传媒 a rights-holder.

SA国际影视传媒淭he notion of Indigenous identity is obviously very complicated and layered with many centuries of colonialism,SA国际影视传媒 Gary Anandasangaree said in an interview Thursday.

SA国际影视传媒淚t really isnSA国际影视传媒檛 the role of the federal government to define what an Indigenous person is, and who is not.SA国际影视传媒

But as the recognition of Indigenous rights often comes from the federal government, he and Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu have been increasingly under pressure from all three federally recognized groups of Indigenous Peoples SA国际影视传媒 First Nations, Inuit and M茅tis SA国际影视传媒 to either butt out of the discussion, or do more to ensure their rights are respected.

SA国际影视传媒淎ny relationship needs constant work and conversations,SA国际影视传媒 said Anandasangaree. SA国际影视传媒淪ometimes, you know, we agree to disagree.SA国际影视传媒

The topic of identity fraud came to a head last fall with a controversial bill in the House of Commons that sought to recognize M茅tis governments in Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

First Nations and the Manitoba M茅tis Federation staunchly oppose the bill, citing concerns with the M茅tis Nation of Ontario, while the federal government held firm it was required by court cases and the Constitution itself.

The M茅tis Nation of Ontario, meanwhile, had its leaders publicly state that members were seeing the real-life impacts of Indigenous identity fraud allegations on the playgrounds at school, in their workplaces and online.

And further east, Inuit and the Innu Nation have raised concerns about the NunatuKavut Community Council who they accuse of overstepping in their efforts to be recognized as an Indigenous People, while they, too, defend their histories.

The federal governmentSA国际影视传媒檚 involvement in the issue also comes at a time when many people are seized by the notion of Indigenous identity fraud at an individual level, including via the high-profile CBC News investigation into Buffy Sainte-MarieSA国际影视传媒檚 claims to Cree lineage. There are also a number of unrelated court cases underway over specific people.

Anandasangaree said recognizing rights is SA国际影视传媒渧ery difficult,SA国际影视传媒 but decisions need to be made over the next few years, including about the recognition of M茅tis.

A major challenge is that the Indian Act still defines who is First Nations, leaving many people disenfranchised by what he called SA国际影视传媒渁rbitrary cutoffs.SA国际影视传媒

The federal government winds up acting as the arbiter of who is and who isnSA国际影视传媒檛 First Nations under the Indian Act, with generational cutoffs and strict criteria that define who is a member of a community. At the same time, other Indigenous groups like the M茅tis are able to determine for themselves who is welcome in their spaces.

SA国际影视传媒淭he Indian Act SA国际影视传媒 and ISA国际影视传媒檝e said it many times SA国际影视传媒 is a deeply flawed and racist piece of legislation,SA国际影视传媒 said Anandasangaree.

SA国际影视传媒淭he notion of citizenship should not be based on a Canadian definition. It should be based on what the nation believes, and based on their values and their concept of citizenship.SA国际影视传媒

-By Alessia Passafiume, The Canadian Press



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