Please see the below notice sent on behalf of Sherry Mattice, Decolonization, Reconciliation, & Indigenization Standing Committee (DRISC) Chair.

Greetings from your VIUFA Decolonization, Reconciliation, & Indigenization Standing Committee (DRISC) Chair,

Over the past few months, there has been a lot of media coverage on the Carrie Bourassa incident at the University of Saskatchewan, resulting in her status being redefined as a “pretendian”. The term pretendian refers to someone who falsely claims Indigenous identity. VIU needs to take a stand against pretendians like other institutions.

Regarding how this connects with VIU’s Institutional Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan, and its newly developed policy around hiring from equity-deserving groups, it is important to clarify the University’s stance on applicants and hires, who when disclosing personal information could make false claims. When VIU uses one of the new preferential or limited hire categories to attract and interview an Indigenous person for an Indigenous position, we need to be able to figure out how to get proof of Indigenous identity.  Our current practice is the honour system, which allows for folks to falsely claim to be Indigenous.

False claims hurt our Indigenous communities and are an act of violence. Colonial structures embedded in university policies and procedures have created spaces for Indigenous identity theft to happen, often for personal financial gain. Queens University has noted this potential and has recently launched a process designed to verify claims to Indigenous identity.

To further discuss this issue, I would like to invite you to have a conversation – how do you think that VIU should move forward?

I am available to meet by phone or video and look forward to hearing back from you.


ƛ̓eekoo ƛ̓eekoo,

Sherry Mattice, MBA/MScIb,

Doctoral Candidate, Doctor of Business Administration