Queen's Law

Faculty of Law
Faculty of Law

Aboriginal studies at Queen's Law. Photo: Greg Black

Queen’s Faculty of Law is committed to increasing Aboriginal representation within the legal profession, and supporting the Aboriginal students who choose Queen's.

Queen's is situated on traditional Anishnaabe and Haudenosaunee Territory: to acknowledge this traditional territory is to recognize history that predates the earliest European colonies, and its significance for the Indigenous peoples who lived, and continue to live, upon it.

Meet our Indigenous Recruitment & Support Coordinator: Ann Deer

Ann Deer. Photo: Andrew van Overbeke

From the Wolf Clan, Mohawks of Akwesasne, Ann works for the faculties of law, medicine, and Smith School of Business and can liaise you with anyone in the Queen’s community.  She works with prospective students as well as current students, organizing discussions, cultural events, guest speakers, Feast nights and more. She'll be happy to help you connect to other Aboriginal students here at Queen's Law! 

Aboriginal student resources – at Queen's Law and across the university

Four Directions at Queen'sAboriginal Law Students Association Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre provides programming, cultural events, services and resources for the entire university, helping Indigenous students studying with us connect with each other and celebrate their heritage. Queen's Law has the Queen’s Law Aboriginal Law Students’ Alliance to meet our students' specific needs, and the university as a whole is also home to the Queen’s Native Students’ Association. Here in Macdonald Hall, our Lederman Law Library has been acquiring and expanding its collection of Indigenous law resources, with a particular focus on works written and produced by Aboriginal people.  


An 'Aboriginal Ambassador' and Canadian business leader

In 2013, we appointed David Sharpe, Law’95 as our Aboriginal Alumni Ambassador. A Mohawk and a member of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, located near Deseronto, Ontario, David sits on our Dean’s Council and is the President and Chief Operating Officer of Bridging Finance Inc., a private investment management firm based in Toronto.  David is currently the Chair of the Board of Governors of the First Nations University of Canada.  He is also on the Board of Directors of Native Child and Family Services of Toronto and a Board member of the economic development corporation for Eabametoong (Fort Hope) First Nation, a community located approximately 300 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay. David's support is partly why Queen's Law has been so successful in having a range of Aboriginal leaders and voices visit the faculty. 


Recent Indigenous speakers and visitors at Queen's Law

  • Famed Indigenous architect Douglas Cardinal spoke at the Faculty on March 31, 2017 to share with students, faculty and staff an Indigenous perspective on what Canadian society looks like.
  • The Dean’s Panel on Economic Development and reconciliation with Aboriginal Peoples, in conjunction with the Kawaskimhon Moot, which included the following panelists: Ogimaa Duke Peltier, Dr. Mark Dockstator & Kelly LaRocca (2016)
  • Dr. Mark Dockstator, President of First Nations University, to deliver a talk entitled “Contemporary State of Aboriginal Issues in Canada” (2015)
  • Ovide Mercredi, Canadian First Nations leader and former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, to deliver a talk entitled “The Current State of Aboriginal and Treaty Rights in Canada” (2015)
  • Blaine Flavel, Law’90, Chancellor at University of Saskatchewan, to deliver a speech entitled “Challenges with Reconciling Aboriginal Interests and the Canadian Economy, An Energy Perspective” (2014)

Committed to your success

LSS Aboriginal Scholarship created: Jason Mercredi, Ian MooreIn 2015, the Queen's Law Students Society contributed $25,000, matched by Faculty funds, to create the Queen's LSS Aboriginal Entrance Award, a mixed merit- and needs-based award. This is only one small part of a tapestry of funding opportunities for Aboriginal students, available from the law school or through the university proper. Students are automatically evaluated for scholarships upon being offered admission at Queen's Law, and we're here to help you investigate other funding opportunities that might help you in your legal education. Other resources at the university include: 


Some Aboriginal alumni from Queen's Law

Among the Indigenous graduates of Queen's Law, we are proud to include:

  • Rose Boyko, Law’80, LLD’97, the first Aboriginal woman to be appointed a judge by the federal government, presided in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice (Newmarket area) from 1994 until her retirement in 2008. She was the first Canadian to sit on the UN Appeals Tribunal, has been a legal advisor with Justice Canada and Director of Indian Affairs’ Indian Taxation Secretariat, and in 2012 received a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.
  • Linda Locke, QC, Law’84, has been involved with Aboriginal law since graduation. She is the lawyer and manager of the Upper Skeena Counselling & Legal Assistance Society in Hazelton, B.C.; this clinic provides much-needed legal services to Aboriginal people and other disadvantaged residents in her community. A respected member of the bar in her region, she has become a strong, effective advocate for social justice through her work as lawyer, teacher, and mediator. In 2006, she became her province's first Aboriginal woman appointed Queen's Counsel.
  • Wayne Garnons-Williams, Law’90, a senior lawyer and Principal Director of Garwill Law Professional Corp. in Ottawa, provides corporate law services to start-ups and First Nation business ventures. He is also Tribunal Chair of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations Appeal Tribunal and Chair of the International Inter-Tribal Trade and Investment Organization.
  • Justice Joyce L. Pelletier, Law’90, was appointed to the Ontario Court of Justice in 2005. In her previous law practice, she focused extensively on servicing a First Nation and Aboriginal population in criminal defense and child protection work. She has also managed a large First Nation multi-social service child welfare and health agency. Justice Pelletier is an Ojibway woman from the Fort William First Nation.
  • Brian Eyolfson, Law’92 (Artsci’89), is serving as a commissioner on the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. A human rights lawyer and member of Couchiching First Nation, he is one of five commissioners from across the country appointed by the federal government to the independent public inquiry.
  • David Sharpe, Law’95, is the CEO of Bridging Finance Inc., a private investment management firm based in Toronto. He is also Board of Governors Chair of the First Nations University of Canada. At Queen’s Law, he is a member of the Dean’s Council, Alumni Ambassador for Aboriginal Student Recruitment and instructor of the new First Nations Negotiation course. He is a Mohawk from Tyendinaga.

Indigenous Art Project

As part of a greater initiative to increase the visibility of Indigenous art and culture and the recognition of Indigenous territory in spaces across Queen’s campus, the Faculty of Law has launched a public art call for an Indigenous artist to produce an artwork for the atrium of the law school, for unveiling the in fall of 2018. 

Other recent initiatives

  • The introduction of a new internship agreement for Queen’s law students with Debwewin internships which allows them to work with indigenous organizations in Ontario, in partnership with Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General Indigenous Justice Division.
  • Cultural support for current Indigenous students through coffee chats such as a December 2 session with Queen's Law tax professor Art Cockfield on "Issues in Taxation for Indigenous People".
  • The creation of a Queen’s Law Student’s Society (LSS) Reconciliation Committee mandated with responding to the TRC Calls of Action; reviewing LSS policies and activities; and working with the faculty, LSS Core, and the LSS Aboriginal Student Representative to ensure that steps are taken by the LSS to think more deeply about its commitment to reconciliation and the implications of this commitment moving forward.
  • Created of a permanent Aboriginal student representative spot in student government (LSS).
  • Queen's hosted the national Aboriginal law moot (Kawaskimhon) in March, which included film screenings and a panel on aboriginal reconciliation with two chiefs, a First Nations economic leader and the President of First Nations University. A 15-minute documentary to raise awareness of the moot is nearing completion.
  • The development of an undergraduate course in Aboriginal Law (LAW 202, to be offered both online for distance learners and in blended format for Queen's undergrad students starting Summer 2017). 
  • Dean Bill Flanagan participated in the KI Trip in the summer of 2015 to better understand the barriers and challenges facing the youth who live there.


If you have any questions about Indigenous students and studying at Queen's Law, please get in touch: we're here to answer your questions!