Memorial president takes voluntary leave of absence as CBC scrutinizes claims of Indigenous heritage

Memorial University President Vianne Timmons has reportedly taken a voluntary temporary leave of absence after a CBC investigation scrutinized her statements regarding Mi’kmaw heritage. CBC drew attention to a previous iteration of Timmons’ resumé, which reportedly indicated that she was a member of the Bras d’Or Mi’kmaq First Nation, an unrecognized band in Nova Scotia; her previous statements about a Mi’kmaw ancestor; and her receipt of an Indspire award. Timmons released a statement through Memorial apologizing for any hurt or confusion that may have stemmed from her sharing her family background and explicitly stating that she is not Mi’kmaq and does not claim Indigenous identity. Indigenous professor Daniel Bennett said that he had previously expressed concerns about the university’s identity verification and the claims made by some individuals. Memorial’s Board of Regents will be engaging with the issue and seeking guidance through an Indigenous-led Roundtable while Timmons steps back temporarily.

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