We are aware of the Oct. 27 CBC article challenging the Indigenous identity of the University of Saskatchewan (USask) researcher Dr. Carrie Bourassa. As a university, we strive for right and good relations together. While USask does not comment on individual personnel matters due to privacy reasons, we want to provide assurance that any inquiry into this type of allegation would be informed and guided by university policies and procedures.
We are mindful of larger conversations happening across Canada as they relate to Indigenous identity and hiring processes for positions specifically recruiting those with Indigenous ancestry. As an institution, we respect the sovereignty and self-determination of Indigenous peoples. We will work with applicants and through our various Indigenous and community partners to support these principles when we recruit for roles requiring Indigenous ancestry.
Professor Bourassa was not hired by the university because of her Indigenous status, and Indigenous ancestry was not a requirement of the role. The quality of Professor Bourassa's scholarly work speaks for itself and has greatly benefitted the health of communities across Canada. She is a highly valued and widely respected health researcher and leader both within USask and across her extensive community-based research work.
We are also aware the same article referenced an "academic misconduct" complaint that had been lodged with the university against Dr. Carrie Bourassa. The academic complaint processes at the university are confidential, and we will not offer comments on individual complaints and resolutions. It is important to recognize, though, that USask's academic complaint policies are not intended to adjudicate disputes over Indigenous identity or to decide who is or is not Indigenous.
As observed by the Hon. Murray Sinclair, in his recent statement on Indigenous identity, this is a complex question, and all universities must work to build processes that honour Indigenous self-determination, practices, and approaches that affirms Indigenous academics, staff and students.
President Peter Stoicheff has spoken of our collective responsibility as a university to build and shape the community and the world we want every day. ohpahotân | oohpaahotaan, the Indigenous strategy gifted to the university, will guide us. The strategy says the whole USask community is responsible for ensuring that we strive for right and good relations, and we will continue to do so together.
*This statement reflected information known at the time. The most recent statement was released on Nov. 1, 2021.
Provost and Vice President Academic
Office of the Provost
The University of Saskatchewan