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Indigenous Identity Fraud

Honourable senators, I would like to thank the Canadian Senators Group for allowing me space to speak today. I rise today in collaboration with the Indigenous Women’s Collective to address a pervasive and critical issue facing our nation: that of Indigenous identity fraud, or pretendianism.

This issue is not a victimless crime. It harms all Indigenous people, but it particularly harms Indigenous women. It allows interlopers to steal our voice, our power and our hard-earned places in society. These pretendians are cunning. They find cracks left by centuries of colonialism and squeeze through them. They then rely on the ambivalence of these colonial institutions and the silence of many Indigenous male leaders to claim support and legitimacy.

This deceit has allowed pretendians to infiltrate academia, politics, the judiciary, corrections and various other branches of power. This stealing of identity and parading of trauma for such personal gain is blatantly opportunistic racism. If such activity is not being outwardly renounced and combatted, it is being enabled — for it is the silence that surrounds colonial violence against Indigenous women that is killing us. The continued marginalization of Indigenous women that this fraud yields makes us further vulnerable to all forms of violence. It keeps us silent and isolated, with devastating effects.

Yet these pretendians do more than just harm Indigenous peoples. They harm those with whom they have worked and walked with. They hurt the causes these fraudsters pretend to support, and the individuals who rely on that work. They hurt reconciliation in Canada.

However, we Indigenous women are tired of being silent while our abusers enjoy impunity. We have value. We matter. We will continue to speak up and speak out in the face of the various forms of violence that oppress us — whether that violence is systemic, lateral, patriarchal, gender or otherwise.

If the Senate is committed to reconciliation, we must end the deafening silence surrounding pretendianism. We must denounce and renounce such shameful conduct and acknowledge the harm it causes to Indigenous people, particularly Indigenous women and children. It takes all of us, colleagues, to shed our complacency and ensure this violence is no longer empowered to further marginalize Indigenous women, thereby stealing their voice and power. Let us have the courage to be good allies and walk shoulder to shoulder in solidarity against this insidious activity.

Kinanâskomitin. Thank you.

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