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Karen Drake Appointed to Ontario Human Rights Commission

Commissioner Karen Drake is an assistant professor at the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law at Lakehead University and a citizen of the Métis Nation of Ontario. Her teaching and research interests include Canadian law as it affects Indigenous peoples, Anishinaabe law and Métis law. She is the co-editor-in-chief of the Lakehead Law Journal and a commissioner with the Métis Nation of Ontario’s Commission on Métis Rights and Self-Government. She previously clerked with the Ontario Court of Appeal and the Federal Court of Canada and currently serves on the board of directors of the Indigenous Bar Association. Commissioner Drake resides in Thunder Bay.

Please join the Indigenous Bar Association in congratulating Delia Opekokew on receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Strength of Our Women Gala, hosted by the Women’s commission of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN).

The University of Alberta Alumni Association is pleased to announce Mrs. Koren Lightning-Earle will receive an Alumni Horizon Award for her legal contributions and leadership in First Nations community relations, on Thursday, Sept. 22, at the annual Alumni Awards ceremony.

The Alumni Horizon Award recognizes the outstanding achievements of University of Alberta alumni early in their careers.

Koren Lightning-Earle, ’00 BA(Rec/Leisure), ’04 BA, ’07 LLB, is a leader in the local and national Aboriginal community and a role model for her peers and the younger generation. Lightning-Earle, Blue Thunderbird Woman, is Cree from Samson Cree Nation. Her commitment to enhancing the future of First Nations shows in her many roles in her community. She is president of the Indigenous Bar Association, vice-president of Kasohkowew Child Wellness Society, co-chair of the First Nations Women’s Economic Security Council and a member of the Federal Court Aboriginal Bar Liaison Committee. 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 is also a sessional instructor at Maskwacis Cultural College, a post-secondary school within the Four Nations of Maskwacis, Alta. Lightning-Earle is married, has two young daughters, and is the sole practitioner at Thunderbird Law in her home community.

We are very pleased to announce the 28th Annual IBA Fall Conference "Redefining Relationships 'With or Without you" to be held on October 13-15, 2016 at River Rock Casino and Resort & Musqueam Cultural Centrein Vancouver, BC

28th Annual Fall Conference, Redefining Relationships


The Indigenous Bar Association in Canada (“IBA”) congratulates Margaret Froh on her election as President of the Metis Nation of Ontario.

Margaret is the former President of the Indigenous Bar Association in Canada (IBA), a national professional association of Métis, First Nation and Inuit lawyers, judges, law professors and law students. She is the current Chair of the IBA’s Law Student Scholarship Foundation. She has chaired numerous committees of the IBA, including the IBA Ethics Committee, and served as Chair of the Steering Committee for the Accessing Justice & Reconciliation national community-based research project working with Indigenous communities to revitalize Indigenous law in Canada.

Canada Officially Removes Obiector Status on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Tuesday

Posted: May 13, 2016

OTTAWA – The Indigenous Bar Association (IBA) recognizes the Government of Canada’s recent decision to adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in accordance with the Canadian Constitution and without “qualification.”

The IBA was interested in the Minister of Indigenous Affairs’ announcement regarding the Declaration, “breathing life into Section 35 and recognizing it as a full box of rights for Indigenous Peoples in Canada.” Ms. Koren Lightning-Earle, President of the Indigenous Bar Association, stated in response ‘the Declaration is much more than a refinement of section 35 of the Constitution. It has the potential to be transformative of the relationship between Indigenous Peoples and Canada.

Adopting UNDRIP, in addition to implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, provides the Government with the necessary principles to improve the nation-to-nation relationship as envisioned by the parties at the Treaty of Niagara in 1764. A nation-to-nation relationship whereby the Government recognizes and promotes the dignity, survival and well-being of this country’s original inhabitants, remedies the legacy of residential schools and advances the process of reconciliation. “Adoption is the first step. We look forward to working with the federal government on the many ways in which the Declaration must be implemented by Canada in order to demonstrate its full commitment to a nation-to-nation relationship.” said Lightning-Earle.

Ms. Lightning-Earle calls upon the current Government of Canada to, “abolish its long standing historical policy of attempting to assimilate Indigenous Peoples and denying them their rightful place in all facets of Canada, including the economy and legal system. In addition, Ms. Lightning-Earle says, “a new relationship must develop where the Government honours and respects Treaties, recognizes Indigenous Peoples’ right to self-determination and upholds rights to lands, territories and resources.”

The IBA is a national association comprised of Indigenous (First Nations, Inuit and Metis) lawyers, legal academics, articling clerks and law students, including graduate and post-graduate law students. The IBA is a not-for-profit federal corporation mandated, amongst other things, to promote the advancement of legal and social justice for Indigenous peoples in Canada, as well as the reform of laws and policies affecting Indigenous peoples.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: contact Koren Lightning-Earle, President of the Indigenous Bar Association at: klightning-earle@indigenousbar.ca or at 780.721.2345 or visit our website at www.indigenousbar.ca

Please join the Indigenous Bar Association in congratulating Roberta L. Jamieson, IPC upon receiving the YWCA Toronto "WOMEN OF DISTINCTION AWARD."

Posted: March 31, 2016

The President’s Award has only ever been given twice in the history of the YWCA Toronto Women of Distinction Awards, which is a real testament to Roberta’s impact on women and girls in the Aboriginal community.

Click to Download Poster PDF

Canada’s Denial of Adequate Services Discriminates Against On-Reserve First Nation Children and Families, Canadian Human Rights Tribunal Rules

Posted: January 27, 2016

OTTAWA - The Indigenous Bar Association (IBA) congratulates the efforts of Dr. Cindy Blackstock of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, as well as, Assembly of First Nations on this monumental victory in the decision from the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT). Further, the IBA fully supports the CHRT’s findings that the Government of Canada’s funding policies continue to have adverse impacts on First Nation families and children on-reserve and that these adverse impacts propagate the historical disadvantage and trauma suffered by Aboriginal people, in particular, systemic results of the Residential Schools system.

The IBA calls upon the Government of Canada to take immediate steps to address outdated funding policies. These policy directives and inadequate funding have negatively impacted First Nations children and families as far back as Residential Schools being imposed. In order to alleviate the continuing historical disadvantage, the aim, as set out in the CHRT’s decision, should be to “eliminate discrimination”.

Click to Download Full Article

FOR MORE INFORMATION: contact Koren Lightning-Earle, President of the Indigenous Bar Association at: klightning-earle@indigenousbar.ca or at 780.721.2345.


Posted: January 13, 2016

Ottawa, Ontario – The Indigenous Bar Association in Canada (“IBA”) congratulates Angelique EagleWoman on her appointment as Dean of Lakehead University’s Bora Laskin Faculty of Law and applauds her commitment to advance Indigenous legal issues.

“Angelique EagleWoman’s experience teaching Native American Law and serving as General Counsel for her own Tribe, the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate in Dakota makes her eminently well-qualified to ensure that Indigenous laws and perspectives are woven throughout the curriculum of the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law,” says Koren Lightning-Earle, President of the IBA.

Further, the IBA commends Lakehead University for appointing the first Indigenous dean of a Canadian law school. Along with the introduction of mandatory courses on Indigenous legal traditions and Canadian laws applied to Aboriginal peoples, this historic appointment clearly demonstrates the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law’s commitment to implement the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The IBA supports Dean EagleWoman in fulfilling the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law’s tripartite mandate, particularly the Faculty's focus on identifying and addressing Indigenous legal issues.

For further information please contact: Koren Lightning-Earle, President at (780) 721-2345 or via email klightning-earle@indigenousbar.ca.

Jody Wilson-Raybould on her appointment as Canada’s first Indigenous Minister of Justice and Attorney General

The Indigenous Bar Association congratulates Jody Wilson-Raybould on her appointment as Canada’s first Indigenous Minister of Justice and Attorney General. Ms Wilson-Raybould brings a wealth of experience and demonstrated leadership to her new role and the Indigenous Bar Association looks forward to working with her to address the many pressing legal issues affecting Indigenous peoples in Canada. We commend Prime Minister Trudeau on his appointment of Ms Wilson-Raybould as Minister of Justice and Attorney General and for ensuring there is Indigenous representation in cabinet. This is an important and historic step in renewing the relationship between the federal government and the Indigenous Peoples of this country.


The Indigenous Bar Association congratulates Dianne Corbiere on her election as Bencher with the Law Society of Upper Canada.

As the former President of the Indigenous Bar Association, Dianne is an excellent advocate, role model and mentor. Dianne is committed to advancing Indigenous rights, access to justice and for providing opportunities for Indigenous legal students. We wish her continued success in her legal journey.


Dianne Corbiere


The Indigenous Bar Association congratulates Dr. Wilton Littlechild, IPC on receiving the 2015 Indspire Award for Law and Justice.

Chief Littlechild is a respected lawyer and operates the law firm of J. Wilton Littlechild, Barrister and Solicitor, which is situated in the Ermineskin Reserve.  He is a strong advocate for the rights of Indigenous Peoples and promoter of implementation of the treaties between the Indigenous Peoples of Canada and the Crown.  Chief Littlechild served as the Chairperson for the Commission on First Nations and Métis Peoples and Justice Reform, mandated to review the justice system in the province of Saskatchewan and currently is a Commissioner for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

Indigenous Bar Association Applauds Supreme Court Decision in Tsilhqot’in Nation v British Columbia (William Decision)

OTTAWA — The Indigenous Bar Association (IBA), applauds the William decision handed down today in a unanimous judgment by the Supreme Court of Canada. The IBA, a national association of Indian, Inuit and Metis lawyers, judges and laws students intervened in the case, urging the Court to consider the importance of Indigenous laws in articulating a test for Aboriginal title. The Court’s decision rejected arguments made by the Federal Government and the BC Government that Aboriginal title required proof of intensive physical occupancy, in what has been widely criticized as the “postage stamp” theory of aboriginal title. In denouncing the Crown theory of Aboriginal title, the Court opted instead for a territorial-based test for proving Aboriginal title, which gives equal weight to Indigenous laws and the Aboriginal perspective.

The IBA President, Koren Lightning-Earle stated: “The IBA would like to congratulate the Chief William and Tsilhqot’in People for bringing us this important victory. We are happy to have been a part of this landmark case.”

The Supreme Court overturned the decision of the BC Court of Appeal, which was based on the postage stamp theory, and upheld the judgment of Justice Vickers of the BC Supreme Court, finding that the Trial Judge’s decision contained no palpable and overriding error. The Court also held that Justice Vickers applied the correct legal test, and, in rejecting Crown arguments, held that:

“In summary, what is required is a culturally sensitive approach to sufficiency of occupation based on the dual perspectives of the aboriginal group in question – its laws, practices, size, technological ability and the character of the land claimed – and the common law notion of possession as a basis for title.”

David C. Nahwegahbow, IPC, LSM, who acted as legal counsel for the IBA in the case, said:

“This was IBA’s first intervention and we are thrilled that it was such a positive outcome. The decision is historic because it is the first time since the entrenchment of Aboriginal rights in the Constitution Act, 1982, that the Supreme Court has issued such a declaration of Aboriginal title.”

The case is also important for making it clear once and for all that the doctrine of terra nullius has no place, and is not part of Canadian law. “Terra Nullius” means “empty land” and is a racist doctrine that legitimized the taking of Indigenous lands by European powers during the colonial period on the basis that lands occupied by Indigenous peoples were open for the taking because Indigenous peoples were not sufficiently civilized to be considered occupants of the land.

The case sends a strong signal to both federal and provincial governments to negotiate meaningfully with Aboriginal peoples, or face the prospects that the courts are now prepared to give force to Aboriginal and treaty rights in sect 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. The Supreme Court emphasized the importance of obtaining Aboriginal consent for development on their lands. The reference to consent is significant particularly in light of UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which called for free prior and informed consent before development on Indigenous lands.
Koren Lightning-Earle concluded: “The Supreme Court of Canada has issued a very balanced ruling in the William decision, reflective of a country whose legal system is rooted in both common law and indigenous legal traditions.”

The Indigenous Bar Association in Canada (IBA) is a non-profit professional organization for Indian, Inuit and Métis persons trained in the field of law. IBA membership consists of Indigenous lawyers, judges, law professors, legal consultants and law students. The primary purpose of the IBA is to promote respect and recognition of Indigenous laws.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: contact Koren Lightning-Earle, President of the Indigenous Bar Association at:
klightning-earle@indigenousbar.ca or at 780.721.2345 or
David C. Nahwegahbow at: dndaystar@nncfirm.ca or (705) 325-0520 or (613) 795-1504

New Job Opportunities

Sr Legal Counsel/Legal Counsel, Law Dept
With Saskatchewan’s vibrant economy fuelling an increasing demand for power, SaskPower is experiencing one of the most exciting and challenging periods in its history. The corporation has adopted a long-term strategy that involves significant investment in its generation and transmission assets as well as ensuring that growth occurs in a sustainable and environmentally responsible manner.
Click here for more info…

Mc Master University – Director, Human Rights and Dispute Resolution
Founded in 1887, McMaster is consistently ranked as one of the world’s top 100 universities (one of only four Canadian universities), with an impressive reputation for academic and research excellence. Its innovative approaches to teaching and learning have been adopted by universities around the world. We serve our community and our society by supporting the fulfillment of human potential, inspiring creativity and critical thinking, promoting an enduring love of learning, and exploring innovative research that extends the boundaries of higher knowledge.
Click here for more info…

UBC – Lecturer Position, Indigenous Community Legal Clinic
The Peter A. Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia seeks applicants for a term appointment as part-time (0.5 FTE) 12-month Lecturer (without review) for its Indigenous Community Legal Clinic (ICLC).
Click here for more info…

The Bora Laskin Faculty of Law - Director of Indigenous Relations
The Bora Laskin Faculty of Law is seeking applications for this newly approved position, which is integral to our operations and will serve to enhance communications with our Indigenous community partners, and provide support for Indigenous recruitment efforts, admissions, and retention. The creation of this position is in direct response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s call to action #28.
Click here for more info…

CALDER LAW OFFICE – Junior Lawyer position available
Barristers, Solicitors, NotariesCalder Law is a small Northwestern Ontario law practice located on the beautiful shores of Rainy Lake. Our practice focuses primarily on Aboriginal law, with a particular emphasis on Aboriginal rights, First Nation specific claims and economic development.
Click here for more info…

Deadline to apply: Febuary 4th, 2016, 11:59pm. Articling positions at the Department of Justice, Quebec Regional Office, for 2018.
Click here for more info…

The Quebec Regional Offices of the PPSC offer unique articling positions only to law students preparing for admission to the Quebec Bar. Articling students are subject to the regulations and benefits governing term employees of the Government of Canada.
Deadline for applications is February 4, 2016
Click here for more info…

The Gwich'in Tribal Council (GTC) has an exciting full-time opening for a Lawyer (Legal Counsel)in Inuvik, Northwest Territories.
Deadline for applications is January 22nd, 2016
Click here for more info…

Do you have a demonstrated interest in Aboriginal law? Are you knowledgeable and experienced in working with Aboriginal communities? If so, you are encouraged to apply for the Aboriginal Law Summer Student Program!
Click here for more info…

Stevens & Company is a First Nations owned and operated law firm in Parksville, Vancouver Island. More information available at www.stevenslaw.ca.

We are looking for a lawyer with a minimum of 5 years call, with experience in employment law, First Nations law, and civil litigation.
Click here for more info…

Lakehead University's Bora Laskin Faculty of Law invites applications for two tenure track positions.  

Lakehead University's Bora Laskin Faculty of Law invites applications for two tenure track positions. Rank of appointment is dependent on qualifications, teaching, and research experience.   An Aboriginal scholar is strongly encouraged to apply for these appointments. The appointments will commence on July 1, 2016.
Click here for more info…


Hensel Barristers is small and busy litigation firm serving First Nations communities, organizations, and individuals across Canada. Our offices are located in downtown Toronto. We are looking for a legal assistant. Deadline for applications is Friday, October 23, 2015.
Click here for more info…

What is the IBA?

The Indigenous Bar Association in Canada (IBA) is a non-profit professional organization for Indian, Inuit and Métis persons trained in the field of law.

Its membership consist of Indigenous lawyers (practicing and non-practicing), judges, law professors, legal consultants and law students.

As the field of Indigenous law develops, the public is becoming more aware and interested in Indigenous legal issues. The IBA plays an active role in promoting the development of Indigenous law and supporting Indigenous legal practitioners.

Find out more about the IBA by reviewing the objectives and by-laws of the Association.

Upcoming Events - 28th Annual IBA Fall Conference

Redefining Relationships
'With or Without you

October 13-15, 2016
Vancouver, BC

Registration Information



One of the primary goals and objectives of the Indigenous Bar Association is the promotion and reform of policies and laws affecting Indigenous Peoples in Canada.  In furtherance of this objective, the IBA is committed to advancing the concerns of our members with respect to proposed legislation and regulations which may potentially impact the rights and interests of Indigenous peoples in Canada.  As such, if you have any comments or information in respect of draft legislation and regulations, or any other legislative or regulatory initiatives that may impact the lives of Indigenous peoples in Canada, please click here to access our Legislation Watch webpage.


Volunteering with the IBA

The IBA seeks interested members to volunteer to serve as mentors, as public speakers, to serve on committees, contribute to the newsletter, etc.

For info or to volunteer

Job Postings & Other Opportunities

From time to time organizations and employers contact us to share information with our membership regarding potential employment opportunities or volunteer opportunities. 

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