A CBC investigation that forged doubt on the authenticity of a letter which has enabled greater than 1,000 folks to say Indigenous ancestry is reinvigorating efforts to take away so-called “pretendians” from the Algonquins of Ontario (AOO) membership listing.
The letter had been used at a 2013 listening to to influence a retired decide that nineteenth century voyageur Thomas Lagarde was Algonquin, making him a key “root ancestor.”
That meant 1,000 of his descendants may declare they had been Algonquin and thus potential beneficiaries of an enormous pending land declare settlement involving nearly $1 billion and greater than 500 kilometres of land between the AOO and the federal and Ontario governments.
However final month, a CBC investigation utilizing handwriting evaluation, archival analysis and historic analysis revealed that the letter is probably going faux.
“It is nearly, in my thoughts, a certainty that it is a forgery,” Algonquin professor Veldon Coburn stated on the time, having reviewed the outcomes of the investigation.
The brand new revelations have prompted Pikwakanagan First Nation — the one federally acknowledged Algonquin First Nation in Ontario — to resume efforts to take away individuals who depend on Lagarde for his or her Algonquin ancestry from membership
“The Chief and Council of [Pikwakanagan] don’t have any tolerance for fraudulent actions that impression the negotiation course of and beneficiary standards, and immediately impacts the integrity of the method,” the First Nation stated in a press release emailed to CBC Information.
Amongst these focused for removing are some so-called Algonquin political leaders and teachers “who’re fraudulently taking over Indigenous areas in excessive academia and procurement alternatives,” the Pikwakanagan chief and council stated.
It was Pikwakanagan that had led the cost to take away Lagarde from the foundation ancestor listing in 2013, although the trouble failed when the retired decide accepted the authenticity of the controversial letter.
This fall, the First Nation will try as soon as once more to push Lagarde and his relations out, when band management says it “might be pursuing actions to handle the fraudulent exercise/illustration.”
Pikwakanagan is one in every of 10 Algonquin communities that make up the AOO. The opposite 9 entities — made up of a mixture of standing and non-status Indians — are solely acknowledged for the needs of treaty negotiations.
Greater than 8,000 individuals are at present deemed Algonquin and potential beneficiaries of the treaty.
Ancestry of two chiefs rely on Lagarde
For years, Davie Joanisse, chief of Antoine First Nation, in northeastern Ontario, says he and his folks have been involved that too many individuals are being granted Algonquin membership based mostly on flimsy standards.
The revelations concerning the letter may imply a whole lot of individuals might be struck from the AOO membership listing, he stated.
“If there was one thing that was completed incorrect, if there’s a doc that was performed with or tampered with, it is good that any person discovered about it,” stated Joanisse. “I believe it solely strengthens our declare and it strengthens the validity of the folks which can be going to be left on the finish of the day.”
However Joanisse stated he’s additionally involved as a result of two of the 1,000 individuals who depend on Thomas Lagarde’s ancestry are chiefs of Algonquin communities.
Connie Mielke, chief of Better Golden Lake First Nation, and Lynn Clouthier, chief of the Ottawa Algonquin First Nation, each at the very least partially depend on Lagarde for his or her Algonquin id.
“We’re involved as a result of we might have had a number of folks in a management position which will have been making some vital selections they usually might or might haven’t been Algonquin,” stated Joanisse.
Each Mielke and Clouthier declined to talk with CBC Information.
Additional, a few of these 1,000 folks have been counting on Lagarde for his or her ancestry for many years, stated Joanisse, and probably exercising Indigenous rights in that point. “They have been placing further stress on our assets, our fish populations, our moose and deer populations, that are below stress anyhow,” he stated.
Joanisse was additionally fast to level out that the overwhelming majority of people that have been counting on that ancestry have doubtless been doing so in good religion, with out figuring out concerning the questions surrounding the Lagarde letter.
“I do not suppose you may blame the people that utilized below this course of,” he stated.
Professor calls ‘pretendian’ accusation false
One other one who finds herself entangled on this controversy is College of Regina professor Michelle Coupal. She holds the Canada Analysis Chair in Fact, Reconciliation and Indigenous Literatures and is the previous president of the Indigenous Literary Research Affiliation.
Coupal identifies as an Algonquin/French scholar and is a member-in-good-standing of the Bonnechere Algonquin First Nation (BAFN), one of many 10 Algonquin communities concerned within the treaty negotiations.
Her on-line profile says she makes a speciality of “Indigenous literatures of Turtle Island, Indian Residential Faculty literature, reality and reconciliation research, Indigenous media/movie.”
She additionally depends on Thomas Lagarde as one in every of her root ancestors.
Earlier this 12 months, earlier than CBC’s investigation into the questionable letter, she was focused on-line for her reliance on Lagarde.
An nameless Twitter account utilizing the deal with “Pretendians for rent” claimed that Coupal was, in reality, a “white girl” and never Algonquin. The account has known as out dozens of individuals it refers to as “faux Indians,” primarily within the spheres of academia, politics and the humanities.
Claims about folks falsely assuming Indigenous ancestry have comelately, and a variety of have prompted requires elevated accountability.
When CBC Information requested Coupal concerning the account’s declare a couple of months in the past, she known as it “false and defamatory.”
Following the publication of CBC’s investigation final month, Coupal eliminated a lot of her biography from her college profile, together with a reference to her being Algonquin.
When requested concerning the CBC investigation, Coupal stated she stays Algonquin and a member of the BAFN however she acknowledged adjustments could also be coming.
“If my Algonquin standing adjustments, and I’m deemed to not meet federal and provincial requirements, I’ll alter how I determine accordingly,” she stated.
“Even when all of my ancestors are taken off the listing within the fall protests (a scenario that’s extremely unlikely), I’ll stay a member of BAFN as a result of I’ve neighborhood acceptance.”
Additional, Coupal stated that her Canada Analysis Chair place doesn’t hinge on her Indigenous id.
“I am not doing something incorrect right here — not doing analysis I should not be doing, not occupying positions I should not be occupying,” she stated.
The 2017 posting for the place didn’t require the applicant to be Indigenous, promoting that the profitable candidate was to grasp “Indigenous views, Canadian-Indigenous and Indigenous-Indigenous relationships” and was to understand “the essential position for Indigenous-centred reality and reconciliation training and the advantages for Indigenous communities of reality and reconciliation analysis.”
“It doesn’t matter what occurs, my place on the College of Regina and as a Canada Analysis Chair will stay unaffected, because the place was open to all to use,” she stated. “I used to be employed on the power of my analysis, not my ethnicity.”