VIU accepts return of Honorary Doctorate of Laws from Dr. Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond

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January 17, 2023 - 2:15pm

University is continuing with a consultation to establish policy on Indigenous identity.

Vancouver Island University (VIU) has accepted the return of an Honorary Doctorate of Laws given to Dr. Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond in 2013.

Turpel-Lafond informed VIU of her decision to voluntarily return the honour after receiving correspondence from the university that it would be moving forward with a process regarding her honorary doctorate. VIU initiated this process following requests from members of the VIU community and calls from the Indigenous Women’s Collective to review Turpel-Lafond’s continued eligibility to hold VIU’s highest honour. As this matter is now concluded, VIU will not provide further comment on Turpel-Lafond’s specific case.

More broadly, VIU condemns Indigenous identity fraud and will continue the consultation process that is currently underway to develop and implement an Indigenous Identity Policy. VIU will also be reviewing its policy and procedure for nominating, awarding and rescinding honorary doctorates.  

“False claims of Indigenous ancestry cause harm to Indigenous peoples,” said Dr. Deborah Saucier, VIU President and Vice-chancellor. “This is why VIU’s future policy on Indigenous identity will honour the contributions of Indigenous students, faculty, staff and community leaders and will include safeguards to confirm Indigenous identity going forward.”

VIU looks forward to sharing our progress on this important policy development.


Media Contact:

Jenn McGarrigle, External Communications Manager, Vancouver Island University

C: 250.619.6860 | E: | T: @VIUNews

Listen to Dr. Deborah Saucier speak on the Jas Johal Show:


Tags: Announcements

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