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Investigation On University Of Saskatchewan Professor’s Self-proclaimed Indigenous Identity Causes Her to Resign

Carrie Bourassa, Community Health and Epidemiology ex-professor, who last year was indefinitely suspended by the University of Saskatchewan, recently resigned from her faculty position. Her salary was estimated at $208,555, annually. The New York Post called her a “disgraced health expert.”

Investigation On University Of Saskatchewan Professor’s Self-proclaimed Indigenous Identity Causes Her to Resign
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Carrie Bourassa, Community Health and Epidemiology ex-professor, who last year was indefinitely suspended by the University of Saskatchewan, recently resigned from her faculty position. Her salary was estimated at $208,555, annually. The New York Post called her a “disgraced health expert.”

In late 2019, Bourassa, who was at the time one of the most-esteemed Indigenous health experts in Canada, appeared at a TEDx Talk event detailing her alleged Métis, Tlingit, and Anishinaabe origins.

“I’m Bear Clan. I’m Anishnaabe and Métis from Treaty Four Territory,” claimed Bourassa, before doing a round of acknowledgment to multiple individuals and tribes.

Following this event, the government-run Canadian Broadcasting Corporation began investigating her claims. What tipped them off was statements some of her colleagues made, claiming her personal story was entirely built on a lie.

Bourassa reacted, at the time, to the fact that her claims were challenged by saying that she felt “shocked and dismayed at the recent attack on [her] identity.”

One colleague, by the name of Winona Wheeler, told CBC the following:

“When I saw that TEDx, to be quite honest, I was repulsed by how hard she was working to pass herself off as Indigenous. [...] You’ve got no right to tell people that’s who you are in order to gain legitimacy, to get positions and to get funding. That’s abuse.”

The CBC investigation confirmed that the claims against Bourassa’s statement were indeed correct.

A quick family tree created by some of her colleagues revealed that there is absolutely no part of her that is Indigenous. In fact, she has Swiss, Hungarian, Polish and Czechoslovakian origins.

New York Post journalist Isabel Vincent specified that Bourassa “grew up in a white middle-class family in Regina, the capital of Saskatchewan with a population of just under 240,000 residents. Her father, Ron Weibel, was a small businessman who owned car cleaning companies in the city.”

Following the investigations, multiple organizations decided to partially or completely cut ties with Bourassa.

One of them, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, declared that “she would not be the scientific director of its Institute of Indigenous Peoples’ Health.”

“Maintaining an ongoing dialogue with the Indigenous health research community is integral to strengthening our relationship and promoting reconciliation. CIHR remains committed to listening and learning as we move forward together,” they stated.

Bourassa was then suspended without pay by the University of Saskatchewan.

Recently, on June 1, 2022, the dean of the College Of Medicine, Dr. Preston Smith, announced Bourassa’s resignation as the investigation continued. Now, Smith says that the ongoing investigation will aim to improve university policies and processes.

“The purpose of this communication is to advise Dr. Carrie Bourassa has resigned from employment at the University of Saskatchewan, effective June 1, 2022,” the statement reads.

“Given Dr. Bourassa is no longer with the university, an investigation being conducted by Jean Teillet will now focus on recommendations for improvements to relevant University of Saskatchewan policies and processes. Teillet’s recommendations will be provided to USask in the near future, and these recommendations will be shared publicly.”

 

WANT MORE UNIVERSITY STORIES? CLICK HERE!

 

Image from: DAVE STOBBE/UNIVERSITY OF SASKATCHEWAN

 

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