Distorted Descent

False claims of ancestry are nothing new. There was a living to be made a century and more ago in producing false personal genealogies back to notable people.

These days the motivations may be different, but the practice remains.

On Monday evening, in an OGS Toronto Branch presentation, Daryl Leroux, an expert on French-Canadian Genealogy, shared findings from his 2019 book Distorted Descent: White Claims to Indigenous Identity. He examined the increasing numbers of white French-Canadians identifying as Indigenous on the basis of false genealogies back to women like Marie Sylvestre who were not aboriginal but are claimed to be.  Leroux stated these are used to justify claims to aboriginal rights, such as fishing rights and land claims, and by organizations to inflate numbers of Indigenous employees.

Leroux was quick to state he would not enter into the discussion of what should be the criteria for “status” He was pointing out the numerous cases where the ancestry was false.

An article in today’s The Conversation Canada,  We are facing a settler colonial crisis, not an Indigenous identity crisis, provides further food for thought.

“The issue is that in their rush to “indigenize,” universities have created the conditions whereby someone who has mined the genealogical archives can access a position reserved for an Indigenous person, displacing those of us who are connected to and claimed by a living community/Nation of people.”

One Reply to “Distorted Descent”

  1. Personally, I have never researched the FH of a French Canadian without CONFIRMING an Aboriginal heritage as well. The fact is that the British in Canada, in the early years, were soldiers, with families at home in the UK they intended to return to. Some did return with their families. The French Canadians I have researched have all been descendants of the French who came to Canada in support of the priests planning to convert the Aboriginal population to Catholicism. In one case, the French fellow crossed the Atlantic three times, returning home to marry and then bring his bride to Canada. His descendants intermarried with the Aboriginals. Cheers, BT

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