Aboriginal? Prove it

Next time some low-life with a right-wing special interest group slams Aboriginal peoples and their right to exist in a newspaper or on radio or TV…. And that person claims to BE an Aboriginal person…. Demand proof.

Yep! Call, email or write a letter to the publisher and the editor of that newspaper, or the producer or editor of that TV or radio program, and demand proof that this person is indeed a genuine, recognized, Aboriginal person and not some cheap knockoff.

The next time you discover some pasty-faced blonde woman applying for government funding for some feel-good group that appeared out of nowhere… Who claims to work for the betterment of Aboriginal peoples everywhere… AND she claims to be “Metis”…  Demand proof!

If these people are going to walk around claiming to be “Aboriginal,” to apply for or take a designated “Aboriginal” position, to take “Aboriginal” funding or an “Aboriginal” grant, to head up an “Aboriginal” company or group… then surely they won’t mind providing proof.

Y’see, it’s all about credibility and providing the proper credentials. As a genuine Mohawk, I am frequently asked to provide proof that I am the real thing. When I buy gas or groceries, or apply for a grant, or cross the border. It’s not that unusual for us because we’re the REAL things. So do NOT hesitate when it comes to that person or group. They should be able to produce the wheretofores and whereas’s to show that he or she or it is not a just-add-water Indian, Métis or Inuit entity.

Here’s what to ask for. The individual person should:

  • be able to prove that they’ve been declaring themselves as (insert Indigenous nation, “Métis” or “Inuit” here) for a long time;
  • be able to prove that they have longstanding family ties to a recognized Aboriginal community;
  • be able to prove that they are known – and recognized by – that community.

If it’s a company or group that claims to be “Aboriginal” and is seeking contracts, grants, or public standing, they should be able to show:

  • that their company is significantly “Aboriginal”;
  • that they do actual work to benefit the “Aboriginal” community;
  • that they have more than just one cigar-store stooge for window dressing.

What do you do if or when they don’t – or won’t – produce proof? Expose the bastards! That’s what. Yell it from the highest building and the tallest mountain. Trust me, though,  REAL Nish won’t mind showing their cred.

What got me on this tack? Two things. An email that I almost deleted. It was written by a former colleague , a card-carrying Métis from Alberta. He demanded that Tanis Fiss — at that time (April 2006) the resident “Aboriginal” expert with a national lobby group — provide credentials to back up her online claims to “Aboriginality.” Her reply left him wanting:

While I appreciate your timely response to my past e-mail, I could not help but note that it was remarkably brief (a scant nine words), and that you deliberately chose not to answer my clearly stated questions about the basis of your publicly asserted claim to being a ‘Métis woman,’ as described by your Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) bio (the accent mark on the ‘e,’ by the way, was a nice touch, but was unforgivably misused unless you can directly trace your ancestry back to the historic Red River Métis).

My former colleague wrote that email nearly five years ago. Well, things have certainly changed. We know of too many people running about claiming to be what they ain’t. Yessireebob. It seems that even the Federal Government of Canada (bow and scrape) has decided there may be a few too many faux Indiens taking up designated “Aboriginal” positions in the Federal civil service. So the Public Service Commission (PSC) has followed my friend’s demand for proof of Aboriginality (is that a word?) as a Canada-wide directive.

Hear ye! Hear ye! Henceforth…

  • Effective January 1, 2010, all departments and agencies under the Public Service Employment Act will be required to use an Affirmation of Aboriginal Affiliation Form (AAAF) for advertised and non-advertised, internal and external appointment processes targeted to Aboriginal peoples.
  • The PSC encourages departments and agencies to include in the Statement of Merit Criteria requirements or competencies that are linked to the job as essential or asset qualifications, such as knowledge of an Aboriginal language, culture, values or customs, if they are relevant.
  • The PSC provides information, tools and guidelines to organizations and candidates to ensure consistency in implementation and understanding of this approach.

So there you have it. No more fakes. No more cling-ons! Expose the rats for what they is. And it’s about bloody time, says I.

p.s.: Dan David is Mohawk and can prove it.

4 thoughts on “Aboriginal? Prove it

  1. Dan, given your passion for Ms. Fiss (would that be Fiss-ion?), you might be interested to know where's she ended up.

    In 2006, she left the CTF for none other than the Canadian arm of global PR firm Hill & Knowlton, which, in some circles, is mighty controversial in its own right. Ms. Fiss is gainfully employed as a Senior Public Relations Consultant there.

  2. As a pasty white woman determined to make my fellow whites have a bit more understanding about issues of concern to First Nations, I also get FURIOUS when I read crap like Fisse writes…all couched in terms of “all Canadians being treated equally” and the secret to equality is property rights etc. Like all neoliberals, she is self satisfied and self centred. I am ashamed to share a skin colour!

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