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BC Civil Liberties Association revokes award granted to Mary Ellen Turpel Lafond

B.C. Representative for Children and Youth Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond listens during a news conference after releasing a joint report with the B.C. Information and Privacy Commissioner about cyberbullying, in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday Nov. 13, 2015. Another award has been stripped from Turpel-Lafond after her claims of Indigenous ancestry were discredited. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Another award has been stripped from Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, the former judge, law professor and British Columbia representative for children and youth whose claims of Indigenous ancestry have been discredited.

A BC Civil Liberties Association statement says it has rescinded the Reg Robson Award given to Turpel-Lafond as part of its 2020 Liberty Awards.

The association says board members believed Turpel-Lafond’s representations about her professional accomplishments and Cree heritage when it granted the award recognizing substantial contributions to civil liberties in B.C. and Canada.

The statement says Turpel-Lafond has yet to account for the allegations about her heritage, and her claims of various professional accomplishments, such as the award of a Queen’s Counsel designation in Saskatchewan, also remain unexplained.

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In conferring its award on Turpel-Lafond, the association recognizes it “contributed to amplifying Turpel-Lafond’s claims and position of influence,” and that her actions added to the “widespread pattern of Indigenous identity fraud, and the severe harms” related to colonial violence and assimilation.

Last month, McGill University, Carleton University and the University of Regina rescinded honourary degrees awarded to Turpel-Lafond and she has returned degrees conferred by two B.C. post-secondary institutions.

“The recent revelations about Turpel-Lafond’s purported Indigenous identity and professional claims, as well as her lack of accountability or remorse on these matters, have been shocking and disturbing,” said the civil liberties association statement.

Her actions have also played a part in “gravely undermining” public confidence in the legal profession. The association says it must follow the lead of Indigenous scholars, leaders and organizations, including the Indigenous Women’s Collective, which demands all honourary degrees and awards to Turpel-Lafond be revoked.

Click to play video: 'University of Regina strips Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond of honorary degree'
University of Regina strips Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond of honorary degree

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 9, 2023.

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