Kevin Klein, the Manitoba Progressive Conservative candidate running for re-election in Kirkfield Park, told a voter that he has no right to question his Indigenous heritage during a telephone town hall in early August.
The caller expressed frustration over the PC government’s refusal to search the landfill where police believe the remains of two First Nations women, Morgan Harris and Marcedes Myran, are located, and asked Klein why he feels that can “appropriate indigenous identity but actually do nothing.” for the indigenous peoples of Manitoba.”
“I understand your frustration and your anger, and you have a right to that,” Klein said in a recording of the public event provided to Breaking: by the Manitoba NDP.
“But you have no right to question my indigenous heritage. You have no right to do that.”
CBC listened to that part of the call and spoke to several people who were on the line. They verified what happened and what was said.
LISTEN | Audio from Kevin Klein’s town hall:
Breaking: Manitoba2:38Kevin Klein’s Telephone Town Hall
Klein emphasized that he has not used his ancestry for personal gain, telling the caller that it is simply a connection to his family.
“So if you say I’m trying to belittle Métis identity, I’m sorry, you’re absolutely wrong, and just because you say that doesn’t mean it’s true,” said Klein, a former Winnipeg city councilor who became Kirkfield Park MLA in a December 2022 by-election and was appointed Environment Minister the following month.
Klein represents the Progressive Conservatives, seeking their third consecutive term, in Kirkfield Park, Winnipeg, in the upcoming Oct. 3 election.
The town hall took place on August 1, before the official start of the campaign period and a day after the CBC published an investigation in which both Klein’s younger brother and the Métis Federation of Manitoba questioned his claim to be Métis.
The CBC investigation into Klein’s cultural identity found no evidence to support her claims of Métis ancestry on her mother’s side, including genealogical evidence, some of which goes back five generations.
Klein said at the August town hall that the CBC reports contained incorrect information about the family tree and had “actual DNA and family research.”
CBC asked David Elmaleh, a lawyer representing Klein, what the DNA evidence would prove, but he declined to answer that question or provide documentation.
SEE | Kevin Klein defends his claim that he is Métis on July 31:
According to another lawyer, the core of Indigenous identity is a connection to the community you claim to be a part of and the community that accepts you.
In an interview with CBC, Métis lawyer Jean Teillet, great-granddaughter of Louis Riel, said that a person can self-identify, as Klein has done, “but without the recognition or acceptance or whatever you want to call it from the community that you are a part of.” of them, you have nothing. You only have your ego and your little right.”
Painted Feather Forest Métis
Klein has said he first realized he was Métis about a decade ago through a late uncle who encouraged him to get a Painted Feather Woodland Métis card.
The Painted Feather Woodland Métis is not recognized by the Métis Federation of Manitoba or the Métis Nation of Ontario. It is a for-profit company based in a single-family residence near Bancroft, Ontario, about 200 kilometers northeast of Toronto.
Painted Feather did not answer questions and directed CBC to its website.
According to its website, Painted Feather Woodland Métis rejects what it calls “overly restrictive and unfair” definitions of who is Métis and states that its definition is “simple: anyone with an Aboriginal ancestor.”
The company’s website lists fees ranging from $57 to $320, plus provincial sales tax, for adult membership.
On the day the CBC investigation was published, Klein said the Métis of Painted Feather Woodland claimed they had researched their genealogy, “and I had no reason to doubt it.”
When asked if he had a connection to a specific Métis community, Klein said he hadn’t done much research into his Métis heritage.
“I haven’t done the work to do it yet.”
Klein has been vocal about her Métis heritage throughout her career in public life, including her tenure as a city councilor and her recent run for mayor of Winnipeg.
He has described his heritage as a connection to his late mother, whom he has publicly identified as Indigenous.
While it’s unclear what the DNA records Klein referred to in the phone meeting are supposed to prove, Kim TallBear, a University of Alberta professor who wrote a book exploring the use of DNA testing to determine ancestry indigenous, said DNA testing can not prove that a person is Métis.
There would have to be some other evidence, but even that wouldn’t automatically mean a person can or should be considered Métis, said TallBear, a citizen of Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate in South Dakota.
CBC served defamation notice
Klein’s lawyer served Breaking: with a defamation notice in late August, alleging that CBC’s reporting was “calculated to ‘cancel’ Mr. Klein, diminish his reputation among his community, members of government and the public, and they were made to belittle, hurt and undermine.” Mr. Klein.”
The notice demands a retraction of those stories and an unequivocal apology. It states that legal action will be taken if requests are not followed.
In a later email, Klein’s attorney explained why he wouldn’t answer questions about the town hall.
“Due to the CBC’s bad faith and irresponsible reporting on Mr. Klein, and the CBC’s refusal to correct the original July 31 article despite several requests, Mr. Klein will not be providing any comment to his media organization,” said attorney David Elmaleh. he said in an email.