Contrary to online claims, this video does not show Celine Dion in wheelchair

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A video has been shared multiple times on social media in Nigeria with claims that it shows singer Celine Dion in a wheelchair. This is the latest in a series of false allegations targeting the Canadian superstar after she announced that she was suffering from a rare neurological disorder and postponed her 2023 European tour. The person in the clip is not Dion but an American woman who was filmed attending her son’s wedding.

"This is Celine Dion attending her son's wedding in a wheelchair," reads a Facebook post published on April 14, 2023.

The 54-second video shows a woman in a wheelchair at a formal event. She is accompanied by three men in suits, who then help her up. Lifted at arm's length, she shares a dance with one of them, visibly moved.

A screenshot showing the false post, taken on April 25, 2023

The claim also appeared elsewhere on Facebook.

The posts surfaced after Dion, 54, announced (archived here) in December 2022 that she was cancelling shows after being diagnosed with Stiff-Person Syndrome.

According to the US National Organization for Rare Disorders, the condition affects (archived here) one in a million people and causes painful muscle spasms triggered by events such as loud noises, light physical contact or stress.

AFP Fact Check has debunked false claims relating to Dion’s condition in the past here and here.

The singer recently announced plans to release a new album.

But the claim that the woman in a wheelchair is Celine Dion is false.

Woman in the video

Using the InVIDWeVerify tool to run reverse image searches on frames from the video, AFP Fact Check found articles and a screenshot of an Instagram account that evoke the story of the woman in the wheelchair that moved Internet users and was relayed by international media.

Yandex screenshot made on April 20, 2023

According to multiple US and UK media reports, such as here, here and here (archived here,here, and here), the clip shows members of a family from Florida in the United States as they celebrated the marriage of Zak Poirier to his longtime girlfriend in April 2022.

On this occasion, Zak’s mother, who has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), was helped up from her wheelchair so that she could dance with her son.

Yandex screenshot made on April 20, 2023

ALS, often called Charcot’s disease, is a muscle-weakening neurological disease that affects up to 30,000 people in the United States, with 5,000 new cases diagnosed each year, according to the Johns Hopkins Institute of Medicine.

The woman in the video, Kathy Poirier, also recountedher son’s wedding on her blog (archived here). In an episode of the US TV show Good Morning America (archived here), she explained that she feared the gaze of others, but that "it was a moment that (she) had been dreaming of for a long time".

Also interviewed, her son Zak said: "Once we danced, nothing else mattered but the time I shared with my mother".

Translated by