Mary Ellen Turpel-Laford removed from Order of Canada after Indigenous ID questions

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, a high-profile lawyer and child-rights advocate embroiled in a controversy surrounding her claims to Indigeneity, has been removed from the Order of Canada at her own request. Turpel-Lafond speaks to a reporter in Vancouver in 2015. Photo: Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press.

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, a high-profile former judge embroiled in a controversy surrounding her claims to Indigenous identity, has been removed from the Order of Canada at her own request.

A notice in Saturday’s Canada Gazette, the federal government’s official newspaper, says her appointment was terminated on Sept. 26 following her request and the Governor General’s approval.

A social media post by the Indigenous Women’s Collective, which had called for her removal, says “stealing Indigenous intergenerational trauma and identities brings very real consequences” and the group thanks the Governor General for “correcting a wrong.”

Turpel-Lafond was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2021.

She has also returned honorary degrees from several universities, including Simon Fraser University, Brock, and two Vancouver Island schools, while McGill, Carleton and the University of Regina have rescinded awards granted to her.

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An investigation by the CBC in the fall 2022 found evidence that called into question Turpel-Lafond’s claims of Indigenous identity.

The former B.C. representative for children and youth previously told the public broadcaster that while she was growing up she didn’t question the biological parentage of her father, who she has said was Cree.

Turpel-Lafond had also served as the director of the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre at the University of British Columbia, where she was a tenured law professor until late 2022.

She told The Canadian Press earlier this year that she was satisfied with her past work, identity and self-worth.

An emailed statement she sent last March said it was “liberating” to be freed of honours because it permits her to “focus on what really matters” in her life.

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