2023 ILSA Speaker Series

March 6 - 10, noon daily | McLennan Ross Hall (LC 231/237) & Virtually

Lunch provided (while supplies last)

Join the Indigenous Law Students' Association and the University of Alberta Faculty of Law for the 2023 Speaker Series! Each day, hear from renowned experts and leaders in Indigenous law as they share their knowledge, experience and perspectives.

This year's theme is Having the Courage to Face the Storm, represented by the buffalo who does not turn away from a storm but moves towards it and through it with courage.

It takes courage to fight injustice and oppression.  Indigenous communities face a storm of challenges including treaty infringement, climate change, land claims and extensive litigation to protect and secure their rights.

The inspiration for this year's theme comes from the work of philosopher James Tully and the subsequent Tully Wheel workshop developed by Profs. Hadley Friedland and Val Napoleon.  This enlightening workshop is a collaborative experience that explores the diverse ways communities and individuals have the courage to face the storm and the ways in which these actions inform, inspire and raise up one another.

Join us March 6 through March 10, between noon and 1pm, to hear from this year's incredible lineup! You are invited to attend in-person or virtually via Zoom. 

Lunch Provided (while supplies last).

The 2023 ILSA Speaker Series is supported by the ATCO Endowment in Aboriginal Law.


March 6: Prof. Hadley Friedland & Koren Lightning Earle

Tully Wheel Exercise with Wahkohtowin Law & Governance Lodge
Revisioning the diverse ways people think and act in response to conditions of injustice and oppression

Prof. Hadley Friedland and Koren Lightning-Earle will guide participants through a Tully Wheel exercise, identifying responses to injustice and oppression, and the ways people respond and work toward positive change.

hadley-friedland.pngHadley Friedland is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law.  Her research focuses on Indigenous law, Aboriginal law, Family law and Child Welfare law, Criminal Justice, Therapeutic jurisprudence and Community-led research.  Dr. Friedland holds a Child and Youth Care diploma from MacEwan University, an LLB from the University of Victoria, and an LLM and PhD from the University of Alberta.  She helped establish the Indigenous Law Research Unit [ILRU] at the University of Victoria Faculty of Law and was its first Research Director.  She has had the honour of working extensively with Indigenous communities across Canada to identify and articulate their own laws.  Dr. Friedland has published numerous academic articles but is most passionate about collaboratively producing accessible Indigenous legal resources for Indigenous communities, legal professionals and the general public.  She is author of the book, The Wetiko (Windigo) Legal Principles: Cree and Anishinabek Responses to Violence and Victimization, University of Toronto Press, 2018.  Dr. Friedland is Academic Director and Co-founder of the Wahkohtowin Law and Governance Lodge, a dedicated research initiative developed to uphold Indigenous law through supporting community-led research.

koren-lightning-earle.pngKoren Lightning-Earle, ’00 BA(Rec/Leisure), ’04 BA, ’07 LLB, ’18 LLM, CIC.C, Blue Thunderbird Woman, is Cree from Samson Cree Nation.  She is the Legal Director with Wahkotowin Law and Governance Lodge.  She is Board Member for First Nations Caring Society.  She is Acting Commissioner for Alberta Utilities Commission.  She is Board Member for Peace Hills Insurance.  She was the Indigenous Initiatives Liaison at the Law Society of Alberta.  She was Vice-President of Kasohkowew Child Wellness Society for 10 years.  She was President of the Indigenous Bar Association for 6 years.

Koren graduated from Law School in 2007 at the University of Alberta.  She was called to the bar in February 2009 and had the honour of having her Bar Call on her Reserve of Samson Cree Nation.  She was called by Chief Justice Wachowich and Federal Court Justice Mandamin.  Koren received her Master of Laws from Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, her concentration was Alternative Dispute Resolution.  Koren’s work focuses on working with Indigenous clients and supporting the revitalization of Indigenous Laws.  Koren advises in the areas of Indigenous Governance, Indigenous Child Welfare, and Indian Act matters.  Koren also is an accomplished speaker on Indigenous Cultural Awareness and Relationship Building.

She was awarded the “Pringle/Royal sessional teaching excellence” Award from Faculty of Law, University of Alberta.  She was awarded “Tomorrow’s Leader” Award from Women in Law Leadership Awards in 2019.  She was awarded the Alumni Horizon Award from the University of Alberta in 2017.  Koren is alumni of the Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference, she participated in the 2017 NWT Tour.  She was an elected council member for Samson Cree Nation from 2011-2014 and is co-founder of Hub, a community mobilization program to help reduce crime.  She was co-chair of the First Nations Women’s Economic Security Council.  She is a sessional instructor at Maskwacis Cultural College and University of Alberta, Faculty of Law.

March 7: Prof. Tamara Pearl

Using an "Anti-dominance" Framework and Mamawi Wicihitowin for a Multi-Juridical Future

Prof. Tamara Pearl’s research focuses on “anti-dominance” training, challenging the dominance dynamics of the settler-colonial framework that is imposed on Indigenous Peoples.

Tamara PearlTamara (Baldhead) Pearl is a Nēhiyaw iskwew (Plains-Cree woman) from One Arrow First Nation in Treaty 6 territory and the traditional homeland of the Métis.  She is an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Alberta and a PhD in Law candidate at the University of Ottawa.  Her research focuses on “anti-dominance” training which challenges the dominance dynamics of the settler colonial framework imposed upon Indigenous Peoples.  Professor Pearl aims to contribute to training legal practitioners using anti-dominance to respectfully engage with Indigenous legal traditions and communities while using Treaty relationships as a guide.  Her goal is to help train law students to not only better our communities but bridge them by using the Nēhiyawak or Plains Cree concept: māmawī wīcihitowin (“working together, helping one another”).

March 8: Gabrielle Fayant

The Power of Grassroots and Youth: Leading the way in social movements

Co-Founder of Assembly of Seven Generations, Gabrielle Fayant presents on the power of grassroots and youth in leading the way for social change.

gabrielle-fayant-w240.jpgGabrielle Fayant is an off-Settlement Metis woman, whose family is from Fishing Lake Metis Settlement, AB, one of the 8 land-based Metis Settlements in Canada.  Gabrielle is an award winning woman for her work in community, youth empowerment, and Indigenous rights awareness.  She has worked with several Indigenous and non-profit organizations and is currently a Helper and Co-Founder of Assembly of Seven Generations (A7G).  A7G is an Indigenous owned and youth-led, non-profit organization focused on cultural support and empowerment programs/policies for Indigenous youth while being led by traditional knowledge and Elder guidance.  Gabrielle is passionate about cultural resurgence and justice for all Indigenous peoples.

March 9: Chief Virginia Gladue, Matt General & Jeff Langlois

Duncan’s First Nation: Fighting back against cumulative effects to protect Treaty rights

Chief Gladue and two of the Nation's lawyers will discuss ongoing efforts to protect their treaty rights from the cumulative effects of industrial expansion, and their statement of claim against the government of Alberta.

Matt General

Matt General has a background spanning twenty-five years in Indigenous rights protection and enforcement matters.  Matt has worked for Indigenous Nations since 2002 and prior to this, he gained valuable insight and knowledge having worked for the energy industry and the BC Environmental Assessment Office on major project reviews.  Matt feels very honoured as having been instructed and taught by Elders, community members and leaders about their perspective on their rights, traditional and natural laws and what constitutes a respectful relationship with the Crown and industry.  Matt currently works independently for the Duncan’s First Nations, other Indigenous Nations and also as the Manager of Indigenous Consultation and Advisory Services for JFK Law, assisting Indigenous clients in litigation, negotiations, territorial planning and impact assessment matters.  Matt’s identify and culture is derived from both his father’s British roots and his mother who is Wolf Clan / Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ, a sovereign Nation of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy.

Jeff LangoisJeff Langlois practices civil litigation and Aboriginal law in JFK’s Vancouver office, focusing on constitutional litigation, Crown consultation and environmental law.

In his Aboriginal law practice, Jeff strives to support his clients’ efforts to protect and advance their Aboriginal and Treaty rights and expand First Nations’ self-determination over their lands and waters.  Jeff advances his clients’ interests in a broad range of contexts, including through the courts, consultations with the Crown and negotiation with industry including, in regard to regulatory decisions, land use and strategic planning, oil and gas, mining, hydroelectric development and the implementation of land claims agreements.

Jeff has acted for First Nations, modern Treaty groups and other Indigenous organizations throughout Canada, with a particular emphasis on British Columbia, Alberta and Northern Canada.  He has appeared before all levels of court in British Columbia and Yukon, as well as the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench, the Ontario Court of Appeal, the Federal Court and the Supreme Court of Canada.

Jeff also acts for non-Indigenous clients in civil litigation matters, with a focus on public, administrative and property law matters.  Prior to joining JFK Law, Jeff practiced at a national law firm in Vancouver where he represented clients in a broad range of issues, including commercial and public litigation, insolvency and administrative law.

March 10: Honourable Madam Justice Michelle O'Bonsawin

Canada’s first Indigenous person to sit on the Supreme Court of Canada, and the journey to get there.

The Honourable Madam Justice Michelle O’Bonsawin, the first Indigenous person to sit on the Supreme Court of Canada, will speak about her career, and her journey to the Supreme Court.

Honourable Madam Justice Michelle O'Bonsawin

The Honourable Michelle O’Bonsawin is a widely respected member of Canada’s legal community with a distinguished career spanning over 20 years.

Justice O’Bonsawin was appointed to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Ottawa in 2017.  Prior to her appointment, she was General Counsel for the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group for eight years.  In this role, she developed a thorough understanding of legal issues related to mental health and performed significant research regarding the use of Gladue principles in the forensic mental health system, appearing before various administrative tribunals and levels of courts, including the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, the Consent and Capacity Board, the Ontario Review Board, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, the Ontario Court of Justice, and the Ontario Court of Appeal.  She began her legal career with the legal services at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and was then Counsel with Canada Post, specializing in labour and employment law, human rights, and privacy law.

Justice O’Bonsawin has taught Indigenous law at the University of Ottawa’s Common Law Program and was previously responsible for the Indigenous Relations Program at the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group.  She is a frequent guest speaker on Gladue principles, Indigenous issues, as well as mental health, labour, and privacy law.  Justice O’Bonsawin is also the author of various publications such as: Access to Justice and Gladue Reports: We All Have a Role to Play in Lawyer’s Daily (2020); A Principled Approach: Applying Gladue Principles at the Ontario Review Board in the National Judicial Institute Indigenous Law Subject Collection (2018); Canada’s Bill C-14 [NCR] A Knee Jerk Reaction to Sensationalized Not Criminally Responsible Cases in the Canadian Criminal Law Review (2016); Mental Health Checklist: A Guide for Members of the Judiciary (2016).

Justice O’Bonsawin previously served on the Board of Governors of the University of Ottawa, as well as its Executive Committee, and as a Board member for the Aboriginal Legal Services of the University of Ottawa Legal Aid Clinic.  She was an observer member of the Membership Committee of Odanak First Nation and a Board member of the Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice.  She is currently a Partner Judge for Afghanistan Women Judges with the International Association of Women Judges.

Justice O’Bonsawin holds a Bachelor of Arts from Laurentian University, a Bachelor of Law from the University of Ottawa, a Master of Law from Osgoode Hall Law School, and a Doctorate in Law from the University of Ottawa.

Born in Hanmer, Ontario, a small Francophone town near Sudbury, she now resides in Ottawa with her family.  A fluently bilingual Franco-Ontarian, Justice O’Bonsawin is an Abenaki member of the Odanak First Nation.

She was appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada on September 1, 2022.



Monday, March 6

Koren Lightning-Earle & Prof. Hadley Friedland

Tully Wheel Exercise with Wahkohtowin Law & Governance Lodge

Revisioning the diverse ways people think and act in response to conditions of injustice and oppression

Tuesday, March 7

 Prof. Tamara Pearl

Using an "Anti-dominance" Framework and Mamawi Wicihitowin for a Multi-Juridical Future

Wednesday, March 8 Gabrielle Fayant

 The Power of Grassroots and Youth: Leading the way in social movements

Thursday, March 9

Chief Virginia Gladue, Matt General & Jeff Langlois

Duncan’s First Nation: Fighting back against cumulative effects to protect Treaty rights

Friday, March 10

Honourable Madam Justice Michelle O’Bonsawin

Canada’s first Indigenous person to sit on the Supreme Court of Canada, and the journey to get there



Questions? Contact ilsauofa@ualberta.ca