Indigenous Law Students’ Association 2021 Speaker Series

Our Story: Indigenous Legal Responses to an Historic Year

World events of the past 12 months have prompted media analysis and reflection on many critical unfolding issues but the Indigenous voice has not always been included. All this week, the ILSA Speakers Series focuses on current affairs concerning sovereignty, COVID-19, policing, pipelines and self-governance from the perspective of Indigenous Canadians.

March 1 - 5, Noon to 1 PM

Via Zoom Webinar (no registration required)

Meeting Link: ILSASpeakerSeries2021

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Speakers & Agenda

March 1

Indigenous Sovereignty in the 2020s

Leroy Little Bear
Leroy Little Bear

Leroy Little Bear is a Blackfoot researcher, professor and a founding member of Canada’s first Native Studies Department. Little Bear is a recognized leader and advocate for Indigenous education, rights, self-governance, language and culture, and has won many awards. He is an Officer of the Order of Canada and a recipient of the Alberta Order of Excellence.

Little Bear’s dedication to education, leadership, community-building and advocacy has led to a United Nations Declaration, changed the Constitution of Canada, and influenced the lives of thousands of students. His influence continues as he teaches courses in law, Native philosophy, and economic development at the University of Lethbridge, where he remains the Senior Advisor to the Office of the President on Aboriginal Initiatives. Through his work, Little Bear has given Canadians a shining example of scholarship, leadership, collaboration, and advocacy.


March 2

COVID-19 and Indigenous Health

Dr. Danièle Behn SmithReagan BartelBonnie Healy
Panel with Dr. Danièle Behn Smith,
Reagan Bartel,
Bonnie Healy

Dr. Danièle Behn Smith has been working to support Indigenous health in the Office of the Provincial Health Officer since 2015, where she works alongside Dr. Bonnie Henry, BC’s Provincial Health Officer. She provides independent advice and support to the Ministry of Health on Indigenous health issues. In support of the ministry’s strategic agenda, Behn Smith works in meaningful partnership with Indigenous collectives, communities and organizations to advance wellness and disrupt colonial practices and policies. Behn Smith is Eh Cho Dene (Big Animal People) of the Fort Nelson First Nation in B.C. with French Canadian/Métis roots in the Red River Valley.

Since getting her Doctor of Medicine from McMaster University and completing residencies at the Universities of Ottawa and Manitoba, Behn Smith’s career has taken her across the globe. She has practised rural medicine in remote and First First Nations communities across Canada. She was a board director for the Indigenous Physicians Association of Canada, the director of education for the University of Alberta’s Indigenous Health Initiatives Program and the site director of the University of British Columbia’s Aboriginal Family practice residency. Since 2014, she has transitioned to a functional medicine practice. Functional medicine is a complex systems biology approach to family practice that resonates with Indigenous approaches to health and healing.

Reagan Bartel, MPH, RN, BScN, CNCC(C), earned her Master of Public Health and Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Alberta. She has 16 years of critical care nursing experience delivering front-line care in an Edmonton ICU before moving into population health as the Director of Health for the Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA). She is a daughter, granddaughter, wife, and Auntie. She is a proud Métis woman, descending from the line of Ignace Poitras Sr. on her father’s side and Irish settlers on her mother’s. Her focus is on ensuring that the Métis stories, experiences, and perceptions gifted to the MNA are incorporated into health advocacy, policy, programs, and services. She values leadership, culture, community, growth and transparency in her life and work.

Aapooyaki Bonnie Healy is a Registered Nurse from the Kainai Nation. Bonnie’s professional background is multi-faceted as she has worked in numerous health capacities at the local, national, and international levels. Actively involved in her Niitsiitaapi (Blackfoot) ways of knowing, she is the former Executive Director of the Alberta First Nations Information Governance Centre's (AFNIGC). She is currently the Blackfoot Confederacy Health Director. She has been fortunate to present research and community success stories to governments, institutions, First Nation communities, and non-profit organizations. Bonnie fulfilled the role as the Chair for the First Nations Information Governance Centre (FNIGC) July 2017 to August 2020. Bonnie’s experience and expertise in First Nations information systems gives her a clear understanding and strong passion for using data as a tool for igniting change. Her work with leadership and First Nations communities provides the ability to liaise and facilitate relationships between Western systems and First Nations identified priorities to support the recognition of First Nations’ jurisdiction and governance in the collection and use of First Nations information and data throughout research initiatives.


March 3

“I am Life”: Indigenous Water Sovereignty and Alberta’s Coal Development Policy

Darcy Lindberg
Darcy Lindberg, University of Alberta Faculty of Law

Darcy Lindberg joined the Faculty as an assistant professor in 2019. His current doctoral research focuses on the constitutional and legal theory of Plains Cree peoples in relation to the land, water, and animals, and the trans-systemic relationships with Canadian constitutional law.

Lindberg earned his LLM and PhD at the University of Victoria. His thesis explored Cree legal orders through an examination of ceremonial rules of procedure and the transformation of gendered protocols. He has published and has publications forthcoming regarding Indigenous law and legal theory, Plains Cree constitutionalism and food sovereignty, and Indigenous citizenship orders.

Lindberg, who is mixed-rooted Plains Cree, was called to the BC and Yukon Bars in 2012. He practiced with Davis LLP in the Yukon Territory. He also has been involved in Indigenous-focused youth leadership development in Alberta for the past 15 years.


March 4

Transmountain and the Duty to Consult

Paul Seaman
Paul Seaman, Gowling WLG

Paul Seaman is Gowling’s National Practice Group Leader in Indigenous Law, and acts on complex constitutional, regulatory, and transactional matters. His Indigenous law practice focuses on projects and transactions where the Crown’s duty to consult Indigenous Peoples is engaged. This includes acting for clients in the context of formal regulatory processes, and

government-to-government and commercial negotiations involving Indigenous communities,

industry, and government. Paul has represented Indigenous clients in the courtroom, boardroom, and around the negotiating table across Canada on several large-scale and high-profile resource development projects, and in related litigation at all levels of court, including the Supreme Court of Canada. Most recently, his work on the Transmountain matter garnered national attention and established a leading precedent on the duty to consult in Canada.


March 5

Self-Governance of the Mi’qmaq Fishery

Naiomi Metallic
Naiomi Metallic, Schulich School of Law

Naiomi Metallic is from the Listuguj Mi’gmaq First Nation in Quebec. She holds a BA (Dalhousie), an LLB (Dalhousie), an LLL (Ottawa), and an LLM (Osgoode). She was the first Mi’gmaq person to be a law clerk at the Supreme Court of Canada. She has been named to the Best Lawyer in Canada® list since 2015 in Aboriginal Law. Since July 2016, Naiomi has split her time between practice and teaching as a full-time faculty member of the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University, where she holds the Chancellor’s Chair in Aboriginal Law and Indigenous Governance. Most recently, she has begun pursuing her PhD at the University of Alberta. As a legal scholar, she is most interested in writing about how the law can be harnessed to promote the well-being of Indigenous Peoples in Canada and conveying this information in accessible ways.