2022 Indigenous Speaker Series focuses on ways to improve the lives of children

Indigenous leaders to discuss how law can bring about positive change

Carmen Rojas - 24 February 2022

When the time came for the Indigenous Law Students’ Association (ILSA) of the University of Alberta Faculty of Law to select a theme for its annual speaker series, organizers knew they wanted to honour the unmarked graves discovered over the past year . 

“The unmarked burials of the children at residential schools has been in our hearts, and so we made those children the focus of this event,” said third-year law student Hero Laird, co-chair of the speaker series. 

“Coming Home: Bringing Children, Laws, and Legal Traditions Back to their Homefire” takes place from February 28 to March 4 in a series of free talks from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. that will be hosted on Zoom. 

The annual speaker series, which is a longstanding tradition in the Faculty going back 20 years, is one way that ILSA works to raise awareness of current Indigenous legal issues. Organizers aim to bring together a cross section of people to engage with the topics that are presented. 

“We are all Treaty people and everyone is welcome, whatever your background is — whether you are new to this topic or you are refreshing your knowledge,” said Laird.

Inspiring speakers

“The speakers are amazing Indigenous leaders who are actively working with Indigenous law to make life better for today and for children in generations to come,” said co-chair and first-year law student Janine Nanimahoo. “They are people who inspire us and give us hope for the future — whether we are Indigenous community members, upcoming law students or anyone who wants to see change.” 

She said their goal is for the messages shared at the event to “put a spark of hope in people.”

“We hope that current and future generations will see that there are Indigenous people leading work already and that [they] will be inspired to get involved and make a difference,” said Nanimahoo.

For more information and to register, visit the 2022 Speaker Series web page

Conference Schedule 

  • February 28 — John Borrows, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Law from the University of Victoria, presenting “Law is Alive in the Community Today”

  • March 1 — Myrna McCallum, founding lawyer of Miyo Pimatisiwin Legal Services in North Vancouver, discussing “Lawyers as Healers: an Introduction to Trauma-Informed Lawyering”

  • March 2 — Kim Murray, the Province of Ontario’s first ever assistant deputy attorney general for Aboriginal justice, presenting “Our Children and the Unmarked Graves”

  • March 3 — Blake Desjarlais, the first openly Two-Spirit Member of Parliament, discussing “Walking in Two Worlds”

  • March 4 — Chief Panel Discussions on “What is Indigenous Law in Practice Today?” featuring Chief Ivan Sawan of Loon River First Nation, Chief Billy Morin of Enoch Cree Nation and Chief Billy Joe Laboucan of Lubicon Lake Band.

This year, organizers have also added a special guest speaker and virtual concert on Friday afternoon. Darcy Lindberg, assistant law professor at the University of Victoria, will speak on the topic of “Law and Beauty” at  1 p.m., followed by a performance from singers Tammy Rae, Vanessa Kim Beaudry and drummer Rocky Morin.