Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond relinquishes second Island university honorary doctorate

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond relinquishes second Island university honorary doctorate
File photo of Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond.

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has voluntarily returned a second honorary doctorate from a university on Vancouver Island after she was informed of a review process following an investigation by CBC into her claims of Indigenous heritage.

Turpel-Lafond was awarded an honorary doctorate of law from Royal Roads University in 2016.

In a news release, Royal Roads says it contacted Turpel-Lafond to inform her there would be a review process of the honorary doctorate. She responded by voluntarily relinquishing the degree, and the board of governors has cancelled it.

“The University acknowledges the harm caused to Indigenous people and communities by controversies such as these, and the need to be more proactive in developing policies and processes to support Indigenous students, faculty, and staff,” Royal Roads said in a news release.

This is the second honorary doctorate she has returned from universities on Vancouver Island this year.

In January, Vancouver Island University announced similar situations, where the university contacted Turpel-Lafond to inform of a review process, and she responded by voluntarily returning it.

READ MORE: Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond returns honorary doctorate from VIU

These are two of 10 honorary doctorates awarded to Turpel-Lafond. In January, six of the 10, including Royal Roads, told The Canadian Press they were reviewing the honorary doctorates given to Turpel-Lafond.

READ MORE: More universities reviewing honorary degrees given to Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond

This move comes after the Indigenous Women’s Collective called on the honours to be withdrawn because the former law professor stole the identity and lived experiences of Indigenous women.

-With files from The Canadian Press

Laura BroughamLaura Brougham

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