Pretendians and what to do with people who falsely say they’re Indigenous put InFocus


Pretendians – noun – A person who falsely claims to have Indigenous ancestry – meaning it’s people who fake an Indigenous identity or dig up an old ancestor from hundreds of years ago to proclaim themselves as Indigenous today. They take up a lot of space and income from First Nation, Inuit and Metis Peoples.

It’s not a new phenomenon – but the conversation about what to do about these fraudsters continues to evolve.

In the wake of the most recent identity scandal that rocked the arts world and ended with award-winning filmmaker Michelle Latimer apologizing for falsely claiming connection to Kitigan Zibi, some are calling for harsh penalties for anyone who can’t back up their identity claim – fines of $250,000 or five years in jail.

Others say it’s a slippery slope to police identity and walks down the perilous path of blood quantum.

InFocus Host Melissa Ridgen and guests including Jacqueline Keeler, Veldon Coburn and Tamara Bell explore the many aspects of identity fraud and the devastation it brings.

Host, Producer / Winnipeg

Melissa is a proud Red River Metis and award-winning journalist who has spent more than 24 years covering crime, courts, politics, business and entertainment for newspapers in four provinces.
She then joined APTN Investigates in 2009 and APTN National News in 2018 and in that time has garnered numerous awards and nominations including from the World Indigenous Television Broadcasters Network (2013), Canadian Association of Journalists (2016, 2019) and Canadian Screen Awards (2018, 2019).