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Montreal city councillor steps down as reconciliation advisor

Posted in Canada Provinces, Featured

Published on November 07, 2019 with No Comments

As Indigenous identity questioned

A Montreal city councillor said that she will no longer be responsible for the city’s reconciliation portfolio after questions arose on social media about her Mi’kmaq identity.  Marie-Josée Parent was elected as a municipal councillor for the Champlain-Nuns’ Island district of Verdun in 2017 and a year later was appointed by Mayor Valerie Plante to the City of Montreal’s executive committee as an advisor associated with culture and reconciliation with Indigenous people. At the time, it was widely reported that she was the first Indigenous councillor elected to Montreal city hall, identifying as Mi’kmaq on her father’s side and Acadian on her mother’s side.

But genealogical research conducted by Eric Pouliot-Thisdale says otherwise. The independent researcher posted her family tree, created through public parish registers, to Facebook alleging she had no Mi’kmaq ancestors on her father’s side.

Dominique Ritchot, co-ordinator at the Société généalogique canadienne-française, researched Parent’s genealogy separately and also did not find any Indigenous ancestry on her father’s side. Ritchot did find a Mi’kmaq ancestor on Parent’s mother’s side going back 12 generations. Parent said, without wanting to go into detail, that the information doesn’t align with documents her family has. She said the post was extremely hurtful and called it a form of lateral violence. She said her family’s situation is not easy to understand. They don’t know which community they’re from and have yet to finish their family tree. “My goal has never been to hurt anyone or to make people feel uncomfortable because of this process is something that is important to my family,” she said. “It was a part of oral tradition, a part of something that my family needed and I needed and it’s not finished yet,” she added.

This is not the first time a politician’s Indigenous identity has been questioned. Last year, Winnipeg city councillor Sherri Rollins’s claim of being “a proud Huron-Wendat woman” was under scrutiny because she’s not a member of any modern Indigenous community.

 

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