Dibaajimowin would like to thank the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq Chiefs and the Métis National Council for their recent Memorandum of Understanding respecting each other's nationhood and agreeing to work collaboratively on the problem of pop-up groups and individuals claiming to represent Metis in Nova Scotia. This was a necessary action that serves to tackle a growing problem that affects indigenous people across Canada.
The assumption and inflation of distant indigenous ancestry (real or assumed) by otherwise non-indigenous people is a phenomenon that can be read to reveal an often sinister meaning with possibly serious consequences for actual indigenous communities and people. This is because such people often selectively (mis)use and inflate their assumed indigenous identity for very specific political ends, be it a desire for hunting rights, educational assistance, government funding, or just to satisfy some narcissistic need to make themselves special.
Commandeering the role and the voice of indigenous people is an act of colonial power whereby those who have always enjoyed the benefits of white privilege can (on a whim) construct a particular identity that allows them the ability to trespass on the spaces of actual indigenous people without the need to suffer any of the real consequence of being an indigenous person beyond self-identifying when it is beneficial. Indeed, the number of white people (or people with the most tenuous claims to indigenous identity) are now fabricating indigeneity to obscure, if not dispel, actual indigenous voices in the public sphere.
Voluntarily highlighting, if not inflating one’s claim to a particular ethnicity (e.g. self-identifying without a real connection) – is a common feature of the contemporary white experience. This is especially so when the ethnicity being claimed is one that is seen as ‘neat’ or ‘special’. Such people who do this rarely harm indigenous people. However, given recent statistics from census returns and the number of “pop-up” indigenous organizations in the US and Canada, the problem is growing – and can be seriously problematic when such claims are used to gain a tactical advantage in the assertion of their voices as the loudest in the room. In such cases those claiming indigeneity are staging an extreme form of anti-indigenous activism because their ability to leverage their white privilege can actually amplify their positions in a weaponized use of their claimed indigeneity.
Therefore, it is important to stand up against the myriad of fake and fraudulent groups seeking to press their newfound claims of indigeneity above those of actual indigenous people. Claims that seek to silence indigenous people or to diminish their hard fought gains should always be opposed. It is the duty of every single indigenous group to stand up and make it clear that such actions will not be allowed to pass unopposed.
Photo 1 taken from http://www.metisnation.ca/index.php/news/mi%E2%80%99kmaq-metis-nation-leaders-come-together-to-discuss-nationhood
Photo 2 taken from https://globalnews.ca/news/4234783/eastern-metis-canada/
A collaborative effort of members of the Ojibwe and Metis communities