Newly elected Winnipeg city councillor Sherri Rollins faces questions about her changing Indigenous identity - APTN NewsAPTN News

Newly elected Winnipeg city councillor Sherri Rollins faces questions about her changing Indigenous identity

Melissa Ridgen
APTN News
Newly-elected Winnipeg city councillor Sherri Rollins faced questions Friday about her Indigenous identity after first claiming she was Metis, then a member of the Huron-Wendat community, and finally Miami.

Rollins was elected last month as councillor for the Fort Rouge- East Fort Garry ward in a city that has Canada’s largest Indigenous population.

Part of her campaign during the election was that she is “a proud Huron-Wendat woman.” 

Rollins also identified as Huron-Wendat when she worked with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

It’s the first thing mentioned on her Twitter account.

When asked about her roots, Rollins said in an email to APTN “I was born and raised in Ottawa.” She couldn’t provide a community connection, only that her family is from the Windsor-Detroit corridor 300 years ago.

In a later email, Rollins said her great, great, great grandmother wasn’t Huron-Wendat, but rather Miami.

“I grew thinking I was Huron-Wendat,” she said in the email.

Huron-Wendat Nation said with no bloodline connection, she can’t claim to be Huron-Wendat and their legal office is looking into the matter.

The Wyandot of Anderdon Nation in Michigan, in the Windsor-Detroit corridor also doesn’t claim her or her family.

When told that, Rollins said her identity “is layered.”

“Like many Canadians, it’s multifaceted,” Rollins told reporters at Winnipeg city hall Friday, adding she identifies “as an Indigenous woman of Huron-Wendat, Miami descent, and First Nations and French and as a Jew.”

In an undated article in The Jewish Post she also identified as Metis, saying “Wendat and Métis are my French Canadian, Catholic culture,” she’s quoted.

She denied claiming that Friday.

“No, I get called Metis a lot but I said I identify as a Jew, I identify as French, I identify if I eat Yorkshire pudding sometimes you know, I feel really British,” she told reporters.

She insists she hasn’t used an Indigenous identity as a means to getting any job, including her council seat or her job with the TRC or the national MMIWG inquiry.

“That’s supposing that I didn’t run on community safety, that I didn’t run on economic development and social development. That I didn’t run on social inclusion,” she said.

St. Mary’s University Professor Darryl Leroux has researched a growing trend in Eastern Canada of French Canadians claiming they’re indigenous today, based on an ancestor from several hundred years ago.

“Research in historical demography, which essentially studies the overall genealogical profile of the population, estimates that 75 per cent of French-Canadians have Indigenous ancestry,” Leroux said. “The average amount is in the range of less than one per cent.”

He said if all French-Canadians with this small amount of Indigenous ancestry claim today to be indigenous, there would be approximately nine million new Indigenous people in Canada immediately.

mridgen@aptn.ca

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6 Responses to “Newly elected Winnipeg city councillor Sherri Rollins faces questions about her changing Indigenous identity”

  1. Jeremyb099@hotmail.com'
    Jeremy November 28, 2018 at 7:54 pm #

    The councillor handled herself very well and with remarkable poise. Unlike the desperate tones of the two people berating her with questions. At some point they should have realized their plan failed. I’m confused why ATPN News would even post this for all to see. Arrogance overshadows embarrassment, I suppose.

  2. lawsonrobyn@hotmail.com'
    Robyn Lawson November 28, 2018 at 7:23 pm #

    Good grief! If this woman cannot be trusted to tell the truth about her own background and claims, ala Joseph Boyden, why in the world should she be trusted in public office? She cannot claim to be Metis – the noun version, not the convenient use of the verb that so many so often do or part anything if she has no connection to those communities on her own. Not her husband’s or children’s. Why do people continue to claim Indigenous ancestry in their entrees into business or politics if it isn’t about some sense of benefit?

    Having some Indigenous blood doesn’t make one Indigenous any more than the Scottish blood I carry from the 1800s makes me Scottish. Stop insinuating Indigenous nations are somehow less of a nation and some kind of catch-all for white fantasy needs of belonging.

    If anyone wants to be Indigenous, try living the experience within your ‘ancestral nations’ for a week. Let’s see if it’s all that attractive a dream when you face the realities of what Indigenous people have to actually live.

  3. j*********@hotmail.com'
    Jeremy February 19, 2019 at 8:41 pm #

    The councillor handled herself very well and with remarkable poise. Unlike the desperate tones of the two people berating her with questions. At some point they should have realized their plan failed. I’m confused why ATPN News would even post this for all to see. Arrogance overshadows embarrassment, I suppose.

  4. l**********@hotmail.com'
    Robyn Lawson February 19, 2019 at 8:41 pm #

    Good grief! If this woman cannot be trusted to tell the truth about her own background and claims, ala Joseph Boyden, why in the world should she be trusted in public office? She cannot claim to be Metis – the noun version, not the convenient use of the verb that so many so often do or part anything if she has no connection to those communities on her own. Not her husband’s or children’s. Why do people continue to claim Indigenous ancestry in their entrees into business or politics if it isn’t about some sense of benefit?

    Having some Indigenous blood doesn’t make one Indigenous any more than the Scottish blood I carry from the 1800s makes me Scottish. Stop insinuating Indigenous nations are somehow less of a nation and some kind of catch-all for white fantasy needs of belonging.

    If anyone wants to be Indigenous, try living the experience within your ‘ancestral nations’ for a week. Let’s see if it’s all that attractive a dream when you face the realities of what Indigenous people have to actually live.

  5. Tglouttit@gmail.com'
    George November 26, 2018 at 5:54 am #

    Its possible she is of native ancestry, I am a native genealogist, with roots in the ottawa and gatineau valley. It is no easy task to trace indigenous roots into the 1700’s; but very possible, many Red River descendants have connections to the early bytown area as well as James and Hudsons bay settlements. I offer my services free to native and metis families looking into their background, i would be intrigued to find if her story is fact or lore.
    Indigen@gmail.com

  6. t********@gmail.com'
    George February 19, 2019 at 8:36 pm #

    Its possible she is of native ancestry, I am a native genealogist, with roots in the ottawa and gatineau valley. It is no easy task to trace indigenous roots into the 1700’s; but very possible, many Red River descendants have connections to the early bytown area as well as James and Hudsons bay settlements. I offer my services free to native and metis families looking into their background, i would be intrigued to find if her story is fact or lore.
    Indigen@gmail.com