Four students elected to represent Indigenous law students across Canada

Faculty of Law students appointed to national Indigenous associations

Sarah Kent - 15 November 2021

Four students at the University of Alberta Faculty of Law will be advocating for Indigenous law students across Canada after being elected to leadership positions with the National Indigenous Law Students’ Association and the Indigenous Bar Association.

Casey Caines, '23 JD, Janine Nanimahoo, ‘24 JD, Amanda Wagar, ‘22 JD, and Anita Cardinal-Stewart, ‘22 JD, started their positions on November 10.

“It is inspiring to see such great representation of our U of A Faculty of Law students advocating for Indigenous students across Canada by taking up leadership roles on the national stage,” said Tamara Pearl, the Faculty’s Indigenous Support Manager.

Caines, who is Cree and Dene and a member of Fort Nelson First Nations, will serve as vice-president First Nations for NILSA. At the Faculty of Law, Caines holds the position of vice-president external for the Indigenous Law Students’ Association.

“It is really an honor to be able to represent my fellow First Nations students on a national level,” said Caines. “Community connection is life-changing, and having the opportunity to build that within the legal field is my passion.”

“This year some of the initiatives I am hoping to move forward alongside the team are advocating for an Afro-Indigenous seat at the table, a working group on Indigenous identity requirements for admissions, and proposals for including EDI positions at every Law Students’ Association,” she said.

Nanimahoo will be representing first-year Indigenous students across Canada in her new position as 1L representative. Nanimahoo, who is Nêhiyaw (Cree) from Bigstone Cree Nation in Treaty 8 territory, also serves as the 1L speaker series co-chair for ILSA.

“As a 1L representative for NILSA, I hope to help where I can, share whatever knowledge I have and make new, lasting relationships,” said Nanimahoo. “I also want to be a team player and assist in anything I can.”

Wagar, who is in her third year and is a member of the Métis Nation of Alberta, was elected as NILSA’s 3L representative. She currently serves as co-president of ILSA alongside Cardinal-Stewart.

“When I started law school, I was told there was an Indigenous community within the faculty. I had no idea just how much it would impact my life or my career path,” said Wagar. “Being a part of ILSA at the U of A ultimately impacted my decision to run for a position on NILSA, and I am so glad I did! It's not everyday that you get to be a part of a team that is bringing real change to the Indigenous legal community.”

“This year we hope to create an avenue for Indigenous law students to come together, build community, and make a real difference for others. The fact that we have 4 students from the University of Alberta this year, speaks to how our community is growing!”

Cardinal-Stewart will be serving a second term as student representative for the Indigenous Bar Association. She previously served as NILSA’s vice-president First Nations and as its president.

“It was my honour to serve as President of NILSA this last year, a truly great experience and one I will never forget,” said Cardinal-Stewart, who is Nêhiyaw (Cree) and a member of Woodland Cree First Nation.

“I am excited for the coming year where I will continue to serve as the Student Representative on the Indigenous Bar Association Executive Board and on NILSA, and I am beyond pleased to support my brilliant friends in their new roles with NILSA. I have no doubt they will do a phenomenal job advocating for Indigenous Law Students across Turtle Island.”

NILSA’s mandate is to advocate for and foster ongoing relationships between Indigenous law students at the national level while the IBA is invested in defending and promoting the interests of Indigenous Peoples in the legal profession.