It's called race-shifting, or fake natives. People who have lived all their lives as whites discover a new identity following a DNA test or a family legend of an Aboriginal great-grandmother.
People previously affiliated with far-right groups who want to exploit the resources allocated to indigenous people. White researchers who discover themselves Aboriginal as their research progresses. Students who want scholarships or people who do not want to be white anymore. All excuses are good for inventing aboriginals, according to researcher Darryl Leroux.
According to Leroux, there are more than 200,000 self-declaring indigenous people in Canada and the United States. Tuesday night, he launched the book Distorted Descent: White Claims of Indigenous Identity . In total, he listed 33 Quebec organizations of fake Aboriginal people.
Since 2003, tens of thousands of people who identified themselves as white now claim to be "Métis", he says.
According to the Mikana organization, the term "Métis" can be confusing because it can be confused with the term "Métis" or "mixed race". Métis with a large "M" is a nation that was created by the mix of French and Aboriginal people in Western Canada.
According to Darryl Leroux, it is precisely on this confusion that the "non-natives" are declaring themselves "Métis".
Professor Darryl Leroux
Researcher Kim Tallbear has written a book on the appropriation of Aboriginal identity. She explains that aboriginal identity is not just in the genes. She is also in the lived experience, the knowledge of the culture and the links with the community.
"People want the privilege of being Aboriginal without having to deal with anti-Aboriginal racism, the intergenerational trauma of residential schools. [...] They only want to wear feathers and feel noble instead of being complicit in the theft of indigenous territories and resources. "- Kim Tallbear
According to Tallbear, the phenomenon of self-proclaimed indigenous people is not new.
"It's so common that there are even t-shirts with my great-grandmother who was aboriginal, " she notes.
The professor believes that the problem has grown with the popularity of DNA testing in recent years.
Despite having written extensively on the subject, Tallbear still receives emails from white students asking where they can do DNA tests to access scholarships. But besides the tangible benefits, why do some people really want to be aboriginal?
Professor Tallbear, a member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Nation, believes it's also "because they do not want to be accomplices to white supremacy".