Justice Mandamin is an Anishnawbe member of the Wikwemikong First Nation located on Manitoulin Island, Ontario and was called to the Alberta Bar in 1983. As a lawyer and advocate, Justice Mandamin vociferously argued for the recognition and protection of aboriginal rights. Most notably, Justice Mandamin appeared as counsel before the Supreme Court of Canada (R. v. Badger), before the
Saskatchewan Court of Appeal (R. v. Wolfe), and before the Indian Claims Commission (representing Cold Lake First Nations re: the Primrose Lake Air Weapons Range). From 1999 to 2007, Justice Mandamin served as a Provincial Court judge in the Calgary Criminal Division of the Provincial Court of Alberta. He also presided over the Tsuu T’ina Court which was a First Nation peacemaker justice initiative, and over the Siksika Court, an initiative involving traditional aboriginal mediation, both of which were the first of their kind in Alberta.
Ever the advocate, Justice Mandamin always worked at creating space for Indigenous People within the legal profession when he was appointed Judge of the Federal Court and ex officio member of the Federal Court of Appeal in 2007. He played a central role in the development of the Federal Court’s Aboriginal Litigation Guidelines and worked tirelessly to ensure that Indigenous perspectives are incorporated into, and form a foundational part of, the administration of justice in Canada. In August of 2018, Justice Mandamin was elected to supernumerary status.
Continuing with his advocacy and leadership, Justice Mandamin has served as a distinguished advocate for many Indigenous organizations, including as legal counsel for the Indian Association of Alberta, president of the Canadian Native Friendship Centre in Edmonton, Alberta (1990), Chairperson of the Edmonton Police Commission (1991-1995), and as an active member of the Environmental Law Centre.
Along with tenures at the Banff School of Management’s Aboriginal Justice Seminars and University of Alberta’s School of Native Studies, Justice Mandamin has been a steadfast ally of Indigenous Law students. Throughout his career, Justice Mandamin supervised seven articling students and admitted four Indigenous candidates to the Law Society of Alberta. As a Federal Court Justice, he took on five Indigenous law clerks. Justice Mandamin’s leadership and unwavering dedication to the legal profession will continue to inspire countless more Indigenous law students.
During his time as a judge, Justice Mandamin was not eligible to receive the Indigenous Peoples’ Counsel designation. Upon hearing word of Justice Mandamin’s retirement, the IBA extended the Indigenous Peoples’ Counsel designation to Justice Mandamin without hesitation. The members of the IBA’s board of directors wish him the best of fortunes in his retirement as he pursues a master’s degree at the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Native Studies.
The IBA is a national non-profit association comprised of Indigenous lawyers (practicing and non-practicing), legal academics and scholars, articling clerks and law students, including graduate and post-graduate law students. Our mandate is to promote the advancement of legal and social justice for Indigenous peoples in Canada and the reformation of laws and policies affecting Indigenous peoples.