Canada is in a state of emergency and if we don’t act now, irreparable harm will be done to the environment, the economy, and the basic democratic and human rights of Canadians. The persistent failure by successive governments to address the ill effects of past and current oppression of Indigenous peoples threatens the well-being of all Canadians. The health and well-being (or lack thereof) of First Nations is a strong indicator of the health of Canada. Canada simply can’t exist without its land defenders. First Nations are Canada’s last best hope at saving the lands, waters, plants and animals for our collective future generations. The real power in any nation is in the people and Canadians, in solidarity with First Nations, have the power to take back Canada and restore the original treaty vision of mutual respect, protection and prosperity.
Dr. Pamela D. Palmater is a Mi’kmaw citizen and member of the Eel River Bar First Nation in northern New Brunswick. She has been a practicing lawyer for 16 years and is currently an Associate Professor and the Chair in Indigenous Governance at Ryerson University. She comes from a large family of 8 sisters and three brothers.
She has 4 university degrees, including a BA from St. Thomas in Native Studies, and an LLB from UNB where she won the Faskin Campbell Godfrey prize in natural resources and environmental law. She went on to complete her Masters and Doctorate in Law from Dalhousie University Law School specializing in First Nation law.
Pam has been studying, volunteering and working in First Nation issues for over 25 years on a wide range of social, political and legal issues, like poverty, housing, child and family services, treaty rights, education and legislation impacting First Nations. She came in second in the Assembly of First Nations election for National Chief in 2012 and was one of the spokespeople, organizers and public educators for the Idle No More movement in 2012-13.
She has been recognized with many awards and honours for her social justice advocacy on behalf of First Nations generally, and Indigenous women and children specifically, and most recently for her work related to murdered and missing Indigenous women. Some of these awards include 2012 YWCA Woman of Distinction Award in Social Justice, the 2012 Women’s Courage Award in Social Justice, Bertha Wilson Honour Society 2012 and Canadian Lawyer Magazine’s 2013 Top 5 Most Influential Lawyer in the Human Rights category, Canada's Top Visionary Women Leaders 2014, and most recently, the 2015 UNB Alumni Award of Distinction.
Pam’s area of expertise is in Indigenous law, politics, and governance. She has numerous publications including her book, Beyond Blood: Rethinking Indigenous Identity, legal academic journal publications, magazine articles and invited news editorials. Her political blog, Indigenous Nationhood has been reposted and reprinted in numerous formats and will soon become a book. She is a well-known speaker, presenter and educator on Indigenous issues both across Canada and internationally, having spoken in Samoa, Hawaii, Peru, Switzerland and England. She is frequently called as an expert before Parliamentary and United Nations committees dealing with laws and policies impacting Indigenous peoples.