Although I’m aware of several well-known & award winning Canadians who have been exposed as having usurped Indigenous identity on which to build a career, i.e. Joseph Boyden, I’ve just learned of another, the Order of Canada and several other prestigious awards recipient, David Bouchard.
Bouchard, who claims Metis ancestry, was exposed for using the officially recognized Metis (Michif) Nation for his own background and gain, after it was discovered he didn’t meet the required ancestral lineage. He responded by creating ‘alternative metis’ groups, which appear to be based in some idea of a pan-Indigenous society. Let’s make it clear, Indigenous nations are nations as much as any other in the world.
Bouchard originally participated in the 2002 creation of the official BC Metis Nation arm of the recognized Metis Nation, but his application and involvement was rescinded when he failed the organization’s own requirement of meeting a current line of five direct generations to the prairie Michif people, history, culture, etc.
His ancestry was related to one Algonquin woman ancestor born in 1621. In 2008, he added to his lineage, a Chippewa grandfather and a grandmother from the middle-U.S. nation, the Osage, circa 1800s. The details to these were provided in 2013 by a U.S. genealogist who declared Bouchard a Metis. Unfortunately that’s not how citizenship inclusion works. The research declared Bouchard as having mixed ancestry, but that research must then be taken to the Canadian situated and recognized Metis Nation for verification and then it is they who grant inclusion into the nation. It is understood that an updated application was not submitted to the Metis Nation.
Although Bouchard’s level of involvement in the 2011 creation of the alternative group, the “BC Metis Federation” is unclear, he went on to create his own alternative national group, the Metis Federation of Canada in 2013, with Karole Dumont as first registrar and Sebastien Malette as “legal advisor”. Neither of these groups require lineage linked to the Michif history.
One does not simply proclaim oneself to be Metis any more than one may proclaim to be Scottish or a Canadian. There are parameters to be met and a connection to any long-lost or Indigenous ancestor is not one of them. Nor does claiming ancestors prior to the ethnogenesis of the Metis Nation make anyone Metis. How is it people don’t recognize there were no Metis until then? They ignore the fact the Michif don’t call their own originating ancestors, Metis. They are recorded as they were, by their original nationhood.
The level to which these people have done damage to the reputation of the recognized Metis Nation and to the people who they sign onto their organizations with the same level of ancestral connections – which is to say non-existent to barely, has many in the Indigenous communities stating these kind of mis-representations could be considered fraudulent.
They harm the recognized Indigenous peoples by mis-representing history, snatching opportunities in employment, awards, grants, scholarships and any other avenue meant to lend a hand up to the marginalized, and they mislead thousands of people into unwittingly believing they too belong to a community.
They go further though. They have members who seek out and harass anyone who speaks out about them by swarming on social media, contacting employers to claim all sort of reverse harassment, to threatening lawsuits.
The Metis Nation is an established nation with history of verifiable detail for centuries. For example, as a member of this nation, I could only state on my application my “Metis” – my Michif ancestry, not my Cree, Haudenosaunee, or any other Indigenous nation to which I’m related.
The details of these organizations are publicly available, as are the officially recognized Metis Nation on their own and the Government of Canada’s websites, yet award, grant or bursary organizations, employers, and especially the Canadian media have not thought to act on determining who is officially recognized, as they hand out opportunities meant for the Indigenous. The unfortunate result are long waiting lists for recognized nation members often held back for years, if not entirely rejected.
There is no pan-Indigenous society or ‘nation’ that one with any hint of Indigenous ancestry can run to for representation. Any who claim this are frauds. If one feels they belong to an Indigenous nation, then seek out the particular nation you believe you’re connected to.
For those who falsely claim Indigeneity, you are doing so at the cost of opportunity for my child, myself or my relations, although I suspect you already know that. I can only say – shame on you. May you face the price for impinging on the last bastion of our sovereignty – our identity.
A visual on who may qualify as a Metis Nation citizen
BC Metis Nation order to rescind membership: David Bouchard MNBC membership application rescinded