Women Judges Support Aboriginal Legal Education

PDF version of press release



Women Judges Support Aboriginal Legal Education

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan – June 3, 2014 – Madam Justice Donna Wilson, Justice of Her Majesty’s Court of Queen’s Bench for Saskatchewan, stopped by the Native Law Centre to drop off a generous $3000.00 cheque from the Canadian Chapter, International Association of Women Judges (CCIAWJ). The funding will support the CCIAWJ’s priorities within the Program of Legal Studies for Native People (PLSNP).

As CCIAWJ Past President Justice Louise Charbonneau explains, the CCIAWJ’s objectives are, “among others, to implement and encourage strategies to achieve gender equality in the justice system; to assist women to participate meaningfully in the justice system in Canada; to promote the appointment of women judges at all levels of court.” Currently, despite many gains, women remain underrepresented in the judiciary, and there is even less representation of Aboriginal women in the judiciary. “For that to change,” says Justice Charbonneau, “more Native women need to become engaged in the practice of law.”

In pursuit of the goal to support more Aboriginal women in law, the CCIAWJ has entered into a partnership with the PLSNP to provide $3000.00 per year for five years. The donation is used for a variety of the PLSNP’s needs, from supporting an Aboriginal woman who wishes to attend the PLSNP but cannot afford the associated costs, to providing enriching educational experiences such as female Aboriginal guest speakers. The CCIAWJ’s donation reflects the members’ commitment to supporting Aboriginal women pursuing law in any way that is required.

Justice Wilson sees that the CCIAWJ’s support of Aboriginal women results in positive changes in the legal profession. “First Nations women lawyers are making significant contributions in all areas of law. There are First Nations lawyers practicing family law, dealing with child welfare issues, representing accused in criminal matters, and performing corporate services for First Nations’ organizations.” Justice Wilson refers to the women lawyers as “role models for the First Nations women going to law school at the University of Saskatchewan and … role models for First Nations women as they enter the workforce.”

The PLSNP is an eight-week national summer program that prepares Aboriginal students for law school. Aboriginal students from across Canada arrive in Saskatoon to study Property Law and learn legal reading, legal writing, and legal analysis skills. In the process, they develop friendships, which create a strong network of Aboriginal legal professionals who support each other in their careers. Given that Aboriginal people are underrepresented in the legal community, the strength of the network contributes to robust cooperation and communication between Aboriginal people in the legal profession.

On May 20, the PLSNP welcomed the 42nd cohort of students. The incoming students join more than 1000 PLSNP graduates, many of whom have become lawyers, judges, government officials, and leaders in policy development, research, and education.

For more information, please contact
Tanya Andrusieczko, Communications Coordinator, Program of Legal Studies for Native People.
Tel.: (306) 966-6197
Email: tanya.andrusieczko@usask.ca