DNA: Heredity or Hoax?

Don’t believe everything you read. In fact, don’t believe everything you pay for either.

In Canada, there are major benefits to being able to prove Aboriginal People ancestry.

NOTE: Aboriginal People is one term for what we used to call native North American Indians or Eskimos although those terms have recently been replaced with Native Canadians or Aboriginal Canadians. See http://bit.ly/2JPniVe for a list of some of the benefits of Aboriginal Canadian ancestry.

It seems that one Toronto-based laboratory that tests people’s DNA to determine their ancestry has been caught providing “proof” of such ancestry, even when the DNA doesn’t prove it. The scam was caught when one Canadian became suspicious and submitted a DNA sample from his girlfriend’s dog for analysis.

The results from DNA testing company Viaguard Accu-Metrics “proved” that Snoopy the Chihuahua has 20 per cent Native American ancestry: 12 per cent Abenaki and eight per cent Mohawk.

The test was repeated. On the second attempt, a French Poodle was “proven” to have five per cent Native American ancestry: two per cent Oji-Cree, two per cent Saulteaux and one per cent Mississauga.

A third test was conducted, this time with DNA samples from three humans, all of whom are CBC employees: Two were born in India and the third was born in Russia, and none was aware of any ancestral connections to North America’s Indigenous populations. As a check, DNA samples from the same three also were submitted to 23andMe. As you may have guessed by now, the results returned by the two companies were wildly different. The results from 23andMe found none of the CBC employees’ DNA was of Native American origin. Rather, greater than 99.8 per cent of their DNA was reported as being linked to the regions where they were born.

The test results from Viaguard Accu-Metrics claimed that all three CBC employees have 20 per cent Native American DNA. The results were broken down further, linking them to specific First Nations communities. Viaguard Accu-Metric determined that the DNA of each of the three individuals was 12 per cent Abanaki and eight per cent Mohawk.

A subsequent CBC News investigation has found there are not only concerns about the accuracy of the DNA tests but also about the possible fraudulent use of cards resembling certificates of Indian status to secure tax exemptions the holders aren’t entitled to.

Canada Revenue Agency, the RCMP, and the Sûreté du Quebec are now investigating Viaguard Accu-Metrics as well as the tax exemption use of identification cards used by people who claim to have Aboriginal Canadian ancestry.

You can read many more details in an article by Jorge Barrera and Tiffany Foxcroft in the CBCNews web site at: https://newsinteractives.cbc.ca/longform/dna-ancestry-test.

My thanks to newsletter reader Robert L Landau for telling me about this hoax.

One Comment

So how do you find the truth about your ancestry. My father was supposedly Cree (told by a tribal elder). He looks Indian, but supposedly, I have no Indian in my DNA. His mother was adopted by a judge in Wisconsin in the late 1890’s. She and her brother both looked Indian but when my family (on dad’s side) found out I was looking, posted on Ancestry that it was a farmer who gave up his kids because his new wife didn’t want them. I was told by both Bill Daydodge and David Silverwolf to look to the side of the family who protested the most. HELP!


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