Manitoba Senator Mary Jane McCallum has moved to crack down on disingenuous ancestry, claiming fake indigenous communities have “sprung up almost overnight.” Pretenders claiming to have First Nations, Métis or Inuit roots have made the number of indigenous communities in Canada skyrocket. Those with indigenous blood receive a litany of perks from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government, such as tax breaks and free education. The Senate held a subsequent debate on investigating misrepresentation of indigenous ancestry, according to Blacklock’s Reporter. “It is not only individual theft, it is community theft,” McCallum told the Senate. “The Cherokee Nation had three communities. Today they have 200.”“It is just to understand the magnitude of the problem,” McCallum said, citing a “number of communities that have sprung up almost overnight claiming Métis status.”McCallum, a former Indian Residential School student, sponsored Motion 96 asking that a committee investigate “the misrepresentation of indigenous ancestry, inadequate self-identification standards and profound effects such as identity fraud has on further marginalizing indigenous people.” “What would you think if I told you I have decided I am going to be a white woman?” McCallum said previously. “‘Pretendians’ perversely claim the vulnerability and violence experienced by indigenous peoples as their own and then use it to their own callous and self-centred purposes.”A vote is pending.Albertan Senator Patti LaBoucane-Benson pointed out indigenous ancestry is legally defined in Canada. “There is a misconception that if someone has partly indigenous ancestry that makes them Métis,” LaBoucane-Benson told the Senate.“Like many Métis people I am especially sensitive to the gaps and misunderstandings that exist about Métis identity,” said LaBoucane-Benson — who traced her own ancestry from an 1830 Red River marriage certificate. “To claim Métis identity without understanding the history of Métis people and nationhood is unfortunate and false,” she said, noting the Métis National Council since 2002 has required that all claimants be “accepted by the Métis Nation” rather than rely on self-declaration.There have been several well-publicized examples of people falsely claiming indigenous roots. Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, honoured as “the first indigenous woman appointed to the Provincial Court in Saskatchewan” in 1998, claimed to be of Cree heritage from Norway House, MB — and then CBC found in 2022 she was from a Niagara Falls family with “no obvious indigenous roots.” Turpel-Lafone’s Order of Canada award was removed in November 2023. Buffy Sainte-Marie, who identified as Canadian Cree, was exposed on the Fifth Estate in October 2023 that she was neither Canadian nor Cree — rather an Italian-American from Stoneham, MA.