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Indigenous Verification

Guidelines for Indigenous membership/citizenship verification  

University of Waterloo has launched a new process as of Fall 2023 to verify Indigenous membership/citizenship to confirm eligibility for designated Indigenous staff, faculty and student opportunities at Waterloo. The University of Waterloo is committed to implementing these processes.  

The University Registrar, through the office of the Associate Vice-President Indigenous Relations, is responsible for implementation. The provisions of these guidelines apply to all self-identified applicants for material advantage to Indigenous specific positions, awards, scholarships, bursaries, special seats, admissions and the tuition waiver at the University of Waterloo.   

All self-identified Indigenous students are always welcome to take advantage of programs or services at The Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre (WISC). The verification process is intended to ensure that  Indigenous specific programs, awards and positions that provide material benefits are made available to students with verifiable documentation or evidence of a relationship to an Indigenous community. False claims of Indigenous identity can inflict real harms on current and prospective Indigenous students and employees, and the University generally. 

Access and review the full guidelines here.

Guiding principles and objectives  

The University of Waterloo recognizes that Indigenous self-identification is no longer working due to the number of fraudulent claims that have emerged in recent years. A process of confirming citizenship/membership in an Indigenous community is required to properly process claims to Indigenous positions, awards, funding and admissions for Indigenous specific programs. The University will implement Indigenous membership/citizenship verification with documentation under these guidelines.  

The University:  

  • Is committed to ensuring that Indigenous positions, awards, funding, and admissions to
    Indigenous specific programs are offered to and occupied by Indigenous candidates.

  • Recognizes that an exclusive reliance on self-identification has caused harm to
    Indigenous Peoples through fraudulent claims of Indigenous identity.

  • Recognizes its responsibility to respond to the concerns expressed by Indigenous
    communities to end fraudulent claims to opportunities and resources meant to
    empower Indigenous people and address historical and current inequities and injustices.

  • Understands that Indigenous citizenship/membership can only be verified by legitimate
    Indigenous communities and governments.

  • Will be guided by an Indigenous Verification Advisory Committee (IVAC) in cases where
    verifiable documentation is not available.

  • Will ensure that appropriate training and resources are available to implement the
    verification process.

If an Indigenous claimant does not have documentation due to the impact of colonial policies and practices, they must demonstrate their kinship ties and their life story that provides evidence of their family and community relations, which will be reviewed by The Indigenous Verification Advisory Committee.   

How to verify your Indigenous citizenship/membership 


If you've not yet submitted via Quest, please note that this is a NEW process as of Fall 2023.  
You will need to complete this process if you are eligible to access the tuition waiver offered to students who are members of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation or Six Nations of the Grand River. First Nations, Inuit and Métis students who are accessing scholarships and bursaries are also required to complete this process. If you submitted your documents on Quest once, you will not be asked to do so again.  

To help you navigate this process, there are resources available: 

  • For step-by-step instructions to completing the Indigenous Declaration and uploading validation documentation visit the Quest website

  • For information about how residency affects your tuition fees, tuition deadlines, and details about tuition fees in general, visit the Student Financial Services website

  • For general questions, please reach out to the Student Service Centre,, 519-888-4567, ext. 42268, or visit The Centre’s website.  

Faculty and staff  

For staff verification during the recruitment process for priority and restricted roles, Human Resources will request verification information as part of the due diligence process, to be verified by OIR, prior to any offer of employment. For restricted hires, citizenship/membership must be verified through OIR; for priority hires, citizenship/membership must be verified if the candidate self-identifies.

Step by step instructions coming soon.  

If no documentation exists

If an Indigenous claimant does not have documentation due to the impact of colonial policies and practices, they must demonstrate their kinship ties and their life story that provides evidence of their family and community relations, which will be reviewed by The Indigenous Verification Advisory Committee.


Waterloo recognizes that identifying who is and who is not a member of an Indigenous community must be done by the community, not the University. For that reason, the validation process will rely on students submitting the accepted citizenship/membership cards that show they are an enrolled member of that community.  

In cases where no documentation exists, an Indigenous-led committee at Waterloo will consider verification requests on an individual basis. Students will be asked for a signed affidavit that outlines their claim and which includes a provision that if the information supplied proves false, that student’s tuition waiver, employment, award, etc. could be rescinded. Claimants for the tuition waiver may also be asked for familial references, and/or a First Nations, Métis, or Inuit-elected or traditional leader’s reference.  

The process to verify Indigenous membership/citizenship is designed to help mitigate Indigenous identity fraud and ensure opportunities designated for Indigenous peoples are awarded to the people for whom they are intended. This verification process is not about an individual’s claim to Indigeneity but about which Indigenous community claims the individual, as well as the individual’s lived experiences of Indigeneity. The University’s Office of Indigenous Relations will work with Indigenous communities as needed to support verification. If a student is found to have provided falsified information or documentation, they are subject to Policy 71 (Student Discipline) and may face penalty. 

These guidelines and processes apply to all members of the University community including, but not limited to, students, researchers, post-doctoral fellows, staff, faculty, institutional leadership, members of governing bodies, Elders, Cultural Advisors, and Knowledge Keepers, and any person participating in University business or activities (e.g., service provider, contractor, volunteer).  

Indigenous Verification Advisory Committee (IVAC) and Membership 

IVAC will function as advisory to the AVP Indigenous Relations and will meet as needed to provide a forum for consultation on citizenship/membership practices campus-wide and advise University leadership on council activities, discuss new developments, and findings from other institutions. The committee will be a sub-committee of the Indigenous Advisory Council and consist of at least one representative from each of the three Indigenous groups as named in the Constitution: First Nations, Metis and Inuit (FNMI). The University recognizes the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the principle of Indigenous self-determination. The Indigenous Verification Advisory Committee will make the final determination on the appropriate interpretation.  

Kelsey Leonard -Shinnecock Nation - Professor Faculty of Environment 

Talena Atfield -Mohawk - Faculty of Arts 

John Lewis – Metis - Faculty of Environment School of Planning 

Myeengun Henry – Anishinaabe - Indigenous knowledge keeper, Faculty of Health 

Jean Becker – Inuk - AVP Indigenous Relations 

Note on Privacy 

The University recognizes that the privacy of the individuals affected by this policy is of the utmost importance. Confidentiality is to be ensured and information is to be managed as prescribed under legislation (see FIPPA and Policy 46)