Before reading this article, I didn’t understand the criticism surrounding Joseph Boyden’s claims.
After all, my sisters and I identify as Ukrainian through my fraternal grandmother, so do my niece’s kids. My nephews identify with their fraternal grandmother who is Cree. A friend’s son closely identifies with his maternal grandfather’s Filipino heritage more so than his brother who physical resemblance to his grandfather’s family is stronger than his.
Even as we identify through custom and tradition, stories and lineage—and feel we are honouring our grandparents’ culture and background—our backgrounds as colonial settlers means that we are used to staking a claim without agreement.
We feel we have a right to belong, with, or without genealogical record because know these roots to be ours to claim Equally, we believe we have a right to reclaim a bloodline kept secret, or to endorse a kinship we feel with our forebears, but this time it is not about us.
The larger issue, as pointed out by journalist Tanya Talaga, is not about making the claim, but about respecting all First Nations’ rights to agreement.