Posted on March 19, 2023

University President on Paid Leave Amid Questions Over Indigenous Identity

Joe Silverstein, Fox News, March 14, 2023

Memorial University President Vianne Timmons decided to go on voluntary paid leave after she became engulfed in a scandal surrounding her claimed Indigenous heritage.

In a statement released Monday, Timmons apologized for any pain her disputed claims to Indigenous ancestry have caused. Memorial University is an academic institution located in Newfoundland and Labrador, a Canadian province.

The controversy stems from Timmons claiming she has never benefited from her Indigenous ancestry, which she maintains is different from Indigenous identity.

“While I have shared that I am not Mi’kmaw and I do not claim an Indigenous identity, questions about my intentions in identifying my Indigenous ancestry and whether I have benefited from sharing my understanding of my family’s history have sparked important conversations on and beyond our campus,” Timmons conceded.

She claims she joined the Bras d’Or Mi’kmaq First Nation tribe, a tribe which is not recognized by Native Americans or Canada’s federal government, for a brief time around 2009 when her brother submitted their genealogy.


However, public documents, including a CV as recent as 2016, show she claimed membership in the tribe over a longer period of time and CBC News found references as late as 2018.