Concern over Indigenous identity fraud heightened by government definitions: minister

  • Canadian Press

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

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 Metis governments in three provinces.

First Nations and the Manitoba Metis 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 Metis.

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 was first published June 21, 2024.