Canadian singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie has issued a statement in response to a recent CBC investigation that questioned her Indigenous heritage. The investigation, which aired on The Fifth Estate in November 2023, featured interviews with family members who claimed that Sainte-Marie was not Indigenous. The investigation also unearthed a birth certificate that appeared to contradict Sainte-Marie’s claims of Indigenous ancestry.
In her statement, Sainte-Marie said that she “has never lied about her identity.” She said that she has always believed that she is of Mi’kmaq heritage, and that this belief is based on what she was told by her growing-up mother. Sainte-Marie also said that she has been adopted by a Cree family, and that she has always felt a strong connection to Indigenous communities.
Sainte-Marie’s statement has been met with support from many Indigenous people, who have praised her for her contributions to Indigenous culture and activism. However, some people have also expressed skepticism about Sainte-Marie’s claims, and have called for further investigation into her ancestry.
The controversy surrounding Sainte-Marie’s Indigenous heritage has sparked a wider conversation about the importance of identity and belonging. It has also raised questions about the role of government institutions in determining who is and is not Indigenous.
Sainte-Marie’s Statement in Full
“I am writing to respond to the recent CBC investigation that questioned my Indigenous heritage. I want to be clear that I have never lied about my identity. I have always believed that I am of Mi’kmaq heritage, and this belief is based on what I was told by my growing-up mother.
When I was a child, my growing-up mother told me that I was adopted and that I was Native. She said that my birth parents were Mi’kmaq, but that she did not know their names or where they were from. I believed my mother, and I have always identified as Native.
In my early twenties, I began to research my ancestry. I spoke to elders and community members, and I searched for records of my birth parents. I was able to find some evidence to support my mother’s story, but I was also unable to find any definitive answers.
I have never pretended to know more about my ancestry than I do. I have always been honest about the fact that I do not know my birth parents or where I come from. However, I have never doubted my Indigenous identity.
I have been adopted by a Cree family, and I have always felt a strong connection to Indigenous communities. I have been raised with Indigenous values and traditions, and I have always felt at home in Indigenous spaces.
I have also been fortunate to have a successful career as a musician and activist. I have used my platform to advocate for Indigenous rights and to promote Indigenous culture. I am proud of my work, and I believe that it has made a positive impact on the world.
The recent CBC investigation has been very difficult for me. I have been questioned and attacked, and I have had my identity called into doubt. I want to assure everyone that I have never lied about my identity. I am who I am, and I am proud of who I am.
I hope that this statement will help to clarify the situation. I am grateful for the support that I have received from so many people, and I look forward to continuing to use my voice to advocate for Indigenous rights and to promote Indigenous culture.”
Reaction to Sainte-Marie’s Statement
Sainte-Marie’s statement has been met with mixed reactions. Many Indigenous people have expressed support for Sainte-Marie, praising her for her contributions to Indigenous culture and activism. They have also argued that Sainte-Marie’s Indigenous identity is a matter of personal identity, and that it should not be determined by government institutions.
However, some people have also expressed skepticism about Sainte-Marie’s claims. They have pointed to the inconsistencies in her story, and have called for further investigation into her ancestry. They have also argued that Sainte-Marie’s claims of Indigenous identity could undermine the claims of other Indigenous people.