ISO and APTN report explores guidelines for claims of Indigeneity

Indigenous singer/actress Ta'Kaiya Blaney arrives on the red carpet on April 8, 2018 before the screening of Zack Embree's film ''Directly Affected: Pipeline Under Pressure'' documenting opposition to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion over the last several years at The Cultch Vancouver East Cultural Centre in Vancouver. Credit: Heinz Ruckemann/ZUMA Wire/Alamy Live News

The Indigenous Screen Office (ISO), in collaboration with APTN, has released a report aimed at setting guidelines for assessing claims to Indigenous identity for institutions that provide funding, grants, and other opportunities for Indigenous people.

The Building Trust and Accountability: Report on Indigenous Eligibility in the Indigenous Screen Sector is aimed at developing policy recommendations and a framework for Indigenous-specific funding in the screen industries.

Authored by Indigenous-owned Archipel Research and Consulting, the report was commissioned after hearing from the Indigenous screen community that leadership was needed to come up with a consistent approach to eligibility in the sector. Their work began in January 2021 with an initial call for Letters of Interest, followed by extensive consultations, surveys, focus groups, and town halls. 

The report follows last year’s much-publicized cancellation of CBC Indigenous sci-fi series Trickster after controversy over the legitimacy of director/co-writer Michelle Latimer’s claims of Indigenous ancestry.

Participants in all aspects of this project stressed that family lore or distant ancestry is not a legitimate means by which to claim Indigenous identity for funding.

Among other points of clear consensus were that membership in a recognized First Nation, Métis, or Inuit community is a valid and acceptable form of identification for funding purposes, even if that documentation has expired. Those without a membership card could submit a letter explaining their story, which would include identifying their nation, ancestral and/or contemporary community, as well as reasons as to why they are unable to obtain membership. Letters of support could also be submitted by Band Council Resolution; a program director and/or manager of the claimed Indigenous community; Chief and/or Council member; or a board member or executive director of an Indigenous Friendship Centre.

ISO and APTN are clear this is just the beginning.

“With input from the community and our Board of Directors, we are pleased to present this final report. But it is by no means the end of the conversation. In fact, this is the starting point for this work that we know will evolve as time goes on,” said Jesse Wente, Co-Executive Director for the ISO. 


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