On November 25, 2020, POV mailed its latest issue, #113 (Fall/Winter 2020) to subscribers. This issue featured the cover story on the documentary Inconvenient Indian and its director, Michelle Latimer. This article noted that Latimer was of Métis and Algonquin descent. On December 17, 2020, CBC Indigenous published a story that put Latimer’s claims of Indigenous identity into question, particularly her connection to the First Nations community of Kitigan Zibi, which has denied her claim of belonging.
The film Inconvenient Indian has been pulled from active release. The news about Latimer’s contested heritage has sparked notable dialogue with Indigenous creators, particularly as it pertains to identity and ancestry and documentary ethics. Latimer has noted on social media that she stands by her claims of ancestry and seeks to prove them in time.
The revelations in the report from CBC Indigenous were a surprise to the members of the POV team and marked the first time in which POV had reason to question Latimer’s Indigenous identity. The cover story for issue #113 was in the works since early August, and over the years, several members of the POV team have spoken with Latimer in which she discussed her Indigenous heritage. This includes interviews dating back several years for previous articles, as well as correspondence pertaining to the cover story as recent as November 2, 2020 in which she clarified statements about her family and her relationship to Indigenous identity. POV’s publisher also corresponded with Latimer’s personal representative in the weeks thereafter about the timing of the article’s release. None of these correspondences indicated that a story was coming from the CBC, or that we should have reason to doubt our reporting. We now understand that the conversations on which we based our coverage were not as legitimate as we believed they were.
We have given our writer for the article an opportunity to respond to the situation, which he has agreed to do, but he asked for time in order to give the matter the full consideration it deserves. We respect his request.
POV is very disappointed by this situation, particularly because we appreciate the role of trust in documentary filmmaking, and we are using it as a learning experience. We sincerely apologize to our readers and to the filmmakers we strive to represent, particularly the Indigenous artists and audience. We are committed to sharing Indigenous perspectives, including more aggressive outreach for participants among our writers, editorial board, and governance. We welcome submissions from Indigenous perspectives and for Indigenous stories, as well as any suggestions for candidates who might be suitable for a role within our organization.
As a documentary publication, POV appreciates the role of trust that is inherent in documentary filmmaking, and we will hold ourselves to higher standards to repair and maintain this trust.
-Pat Mullen, publisher, POV Magazine
-Marc Glassman, editor, POV Magazine