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.