High-profile lawyer Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond and B.C.’s former representative for children and youth is no longer employed by the University of British Columbia.
The university won’t say why it cut ties with the former judge, only that as of Dec. 16 she is no longer a professor at the Allard School of Law.
Turpel-Lafond served as director of the UBC Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre until June.
Her history came under the microscope last fall after a series of reports by the CBC raised questions about both her claims of Indigenous ancestry and her claims of academic accomplishments.
Global News has requested comment from Turpel-Lafond.
In a statement posted to her Twitter account in October, she maintained she was “of Cree, Scottish & English heritage & hold the name aki-kwe & am an active member of the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation. My credentials have been vetted at the highest levels of our country.”
Kelly Wolfe, chief of Muskeg Lake Cree Nation also confirmed that Turpel-Lafond had been a member of the nation for close to 30 years, stating she was a member of one of its kinship familes.
At the time, UBC issued a statement to the Globe and Mail supporting Turpel-Lafond, and stating that “Indigenous identity was not a criterion” for the position she held at the university.
The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs also issued a statement of support at the time and calling her “a fierce, ethical, and groundbreaking advocate for Indigenous peoples for decades.”
“She has demonstrated time and again her commitment to human rights, justice, and reconciliation, including in her role as the Representative for Children and Youth and her investigation into systemic racism in the health care system,” it added.
Turpel-Lafond has been a high-profile public figure in B.C. and across Canada for decades in areas of Indigenous human rights and constitutional law.
In 2020, she authored the report In Plain Sight: Addressing Indigenous-specific Racism and Discrimination in B.C. Health Care.
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