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Memorial University president apologizes for claiming Indigenous ancestry


The president of Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador is apologizing for any hurt he may have caused by claiming aboriginal ancestry.

He said in a public statement today that he is temporarily stepping down while the school’s board of regents considers its next steps through an Indigenous-led roundtable.

An investigation published by CBC News last week raised questions about Vianne Timmons’ claims that her paternal great-grandmother was Mi’kmaq.

Timmons says he never claimed to be Mi’kmaq simply for having Mi’kmaq heritage, but for several years he listed membership in the unrecognized Mi’kmaq First Nation of Nova Scotia on his professional credentials.

She says she shared her understanding of her family’s history and that questions about what her intentions were and whether she had won led to “important conversations.”

Timmons said his father was taught to be ashamed of his Indigenous history, and he says he shared his story in the spirit of reconciliation and respect for Indigenous peoples.

The university says Timmons is on voluntary paid leave for six weeks.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on March 13, 2023.

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