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Questions arise about former U of R president's Indigenous ancestry


Former University of Regina (U of R) president and vice-chancellor Vianne Timmons is the latest target for claims of falsely identifying as Indigenous, which stemmed from a CBC investigation.

The now president and vice-chancellor at Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador said she has Mi’kmaw ancestry but never identified as Indigenous.

“I am not Mi’kmaq,” she said in a statement. “I am not Indigenous. I did not grow up in an Indigenous community, nor was I raised to learn the ways of Indigenous culture. My family, through my father, is of Mi’kmaw ancestry and heritage. It is a distinction I have been careful to make because it is an important distinction.”

Timmons was president at the U of R from 2008 to 2019. She was a part of the U of R’s Indigenization efforts. During her tenure, the university made traditional culture and knowledge more visible and prevalent in school life.

“She did a good job,” said First Nations University (FNUC) lecturer Jason Bird. “She helped FNUC in 2010, she vouched for us and worked with us. To me, she did things worthy of recognition, but to be worthy of the identify of being Indigenous? No.”

Current FNUC president Jackie Ottmann was disappointed in the situation. She believes changes are needed for how Indigenous identity is verified, including the removal of self-identification.

“One of the things we may ask you is, ‘Who are you, who are your people, where are you from?’” said Ottmann. “In a way, it is also an invitation to relationship.” Top Stories

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