Race-shifters: white people who identify as Indigenous NB Media Co-op

Posted in Articles, Canada, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Passing, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science on 2019-12-29 02:46Z by Steven

Race-shifters: white people who identify as Indigenous

NB Media Co-op
Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada

Susan O’Donnell, Adjunct Professor of Sociology
University of New Brunswick

Race-shifters: white people who identify as Indigenous
Sportsman and Indigenous guides (carrying snowshoes), with game in winter. Gabe Atwin far left, ca. 1875. Image from the Provincial Archives of NB.

The number of people across Canada who self-identify as Indigenous is growing rapidly. Some of that growth can be explained by the Indigenous children of the Sixties Scoop and residential school survivors re-discovering or accepting their Indigenous identities. However an entirely different group of Canadians has emerged. “Race-shifters” are white people with no or a small amount of Indigenous ancestry who identify as Indigenous.

Race-shifters live in every province, mostly in communities with large populations of French ancestry. In this province, for example, in 1996 and 2016, the population of New Brunswick was roughly the same. However in the 1996 census, only 950 people self-identified as Métis, but in the 2016 census that number jumped to 10,200. How is this possible?

The confusion includes the misconception that anyone with Indigenous ancestry can call themselves Métis. On the contrary, “Métis” has a specific definition in Canadian law. In 2003 the Supreme Court Powley decision described a Métis person as “one who self-identifies, has an ancestral connection to a historic Métis community, and is accepted by that community.” Anyone can self-identify as “Métis” when answering a census question, but not everyone of them is a member of the historic Métis Nation that originated in the Red River Valley of Manitoba.

Darryl Leroux has been exploring the race-shifting phenomenon for more than two decades. The social scientist from St. Mary’s University was in Fredericton Nov. 20 to speak about the process he has called “white settler revisionism,” a new wave of colonialism and to launch his new book, Distorted Descent: White Claims to Indigenous Identity published by the University of Manitoba Press

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , ,

Firman/Furman Family

Posted in Articles, Canada, History, Media Archive on 2012-02-01 02:37Z by Steven

Firman/Furman Family

Tracing the Black Presence in Nineteenth-Century Westmorland, New Brunswick
Mount Allison University, Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada

Jennifer Harris, Associate Professor of English
Mount Allison University

The Furman family, consisting of parents John and Susan L. with their son Ralph, is buried in St. Mark’s Anglican Cemetery, Mount Whatley, as is daughter Mary Anne (under the name Firman). The fate of their daughter, Susan, is unknown (though as she only appears in the 1861 Census, a year from which their daughter Mary is absent, it is possible they are one and the same). However, son Sydney can be traced through numerous records. The family in all probability lived in the Annapolis Valley during the 1830s, but as of 1851 they were in Westmorland Point, employed as unskilled labor. In 1871 John Furman was identified as Creole, born in the United States about 1789. While it might seem viable that the census taker preferred “Creole” to “mulatto,” the then-dominant term for mixed race individuals, it is unlikely; there were far too many in the region identified as mulatto on baptismal records and other documents who were simply identified as “African” on the census. Thus it seems likely that John was, indeed, a transplanted Creole residing in Westmorland. Given the nineteenth-century meaning of Creole, particularly pre-1820s when John is first identified as being the region, we can extrapolate that John was from Louisiana, of mixed African and French ancestry, and spoke English and French. (Certainly, there were Creole Furmans in nineteenth-century New Orleans, as well as white Furman families who owned slaves.) John may have also spoken some Spanish, as he was born during Spanish rule of Louisiana. If his sense of Creole identity was strong enough to identify as such after over forty years in Canada—and likewise convince the enumerator—it is probable he came of age in this world. By contrast, John’s wife Susan was born in New Brunswick circa 1801, and noted as African.  Both were, not surprisingly, illiterate. At the advanced age of 82, John still worked as a laborer…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , ,