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Saskatchewan professor on leave after Indigenous identity called into question


The University of Saskatchewan has placed a health professor on leave and suspended her duties in its College of Medicine after questions arose about her Indigenous identity.

Carrie Bourassa, one of Canada's foremost researchers in Indigenous health, is being accused of not being Indigenous at all.

A CBC News investigation revealed her genealogy as eastern European. In the past, she has claimed to be Anishinaabe and Metis.

Saskatchewan professors, colleagues of Bourassa, also worked to trace her lineage.

"What we found is that Dr. Carrie Bourassa doesn't have a drop of Indigenous blood in her and that she has been faking her identity for at least 20 years," Winona Wheeler, associate professor of Indigenous Studies at the University of Saskatchewan, told APTN on Monday.

Bourassa declined an interview with CTV.

"I am shocked and dismayed at the recent attack on my identity," she said in a public statement.

She added that she was adopted by a Metis man later in life and identifies as Metis.

"Those adoptions were more meaningful and have stronger bonds than colonial adoptions ... Blood quantums are not our way, but I have been working with a Metis genealogist to investigate my lineage," she said.

The university said there will be an investigation into her claims. The federal government's Canadian Institutes of Health Research also said she has stepped away from her duties as scientific director of its Institute of Indigenous Peoples' Health.

"Fraudulent appropriation of Indigenous identity disregards the fundamental principles of self-determination and sovereignty that must lie at the heart of reconciliation," Metis Nation Saskatchewan said in a statement.

The organization didn't mention Bourassa by name, but said only it can decide who is a Metis citizen in Saskatchewan. Bourassa said she has been vetted by two other Regina Metis organizations.

"If said person would've just said from the start: 'I've been adopted into a Metis family, I consider myself an ally of the Indigenous people even though I'm not Indigenous,' we might not even be having this conversation today," Eagle Feather News publisher John Lagimodiere, who is Metis, told CTV News. Top Stories

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