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November 3, 2023
For Caterina Petrolo her journey into advocating for Indigenous rights in Canada is deeply personal and rooted in her common law partner’s struggle to obtain his Indigenous status. This connection has led her to explore the history, culture, and challenges faced by Indigenous peoples, motivating her to make a difference in their lives.
Caterina’s relationship with her common law partner began in 2003. He had a unique background – his biological parents were Indigenous, but he was given up for adoption as a newborn in 1972. Raised by a loving and nurturing white family on the East Coast, he always knew he was adopted and born as an Indigenous child. However, he faced challenges in obtaining his Indigenous status due to the circumstances of his adoption.
At the age of 19, while volunteering with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and under the guidance of a police officer, he decided to apply for his Indigenous status. This decision marked the beginning of a long and arduous journey. The Canadian government, citing his adoption as a barrier, presented him with countless obstacles. The “Indian Northern Affairs – adoption unit” made the process nearly impossible, demanding numerous repetitive forms and making frivolous and unethical requests. Year after year, he faced denial.