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Awards of Distinction

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.

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.

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

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: or at 780.721.2345 or
David C. Nahwegahbow at: or (705) 325-0520 or (613) 795-1504

Congratulations to Delia Opekokew, IPC on receiving the 2012 President's Award from the Women's Law Association of Ontario.

Delia Opekokew

In recognition of her outstanding service within the profession and her leadership role in advancing the position of women and women lawyers in Ontario.

The Indigenous Bar Association would like to congratulate Dianne Corbiere on being named as one of the Top 25 Most Influential in the Justice System and legal profession in the Changemaker Category by Canadian Lawyer Magazine.

Dianne Corbiere

Dianne Corbiere is a member of M'Chigeeng First Nation and has been a partner with her firm Nahwegahbow Corbiere since 2000. She is a past president of the Indigenous Bar Association. She is an avid advocate and volunteer for the Indigenous Bar Association we are honoured to have her as a member. She is a strong Indigenous Female Lawyer who is a great role model for all Lawyers.







Congratulations to Dianne Corbiere, Don Worme Q.C., & Chief Doug White on their nominations for Canadian Lawyer 25 Most Influential Lawyers 2012.

People can vote at Results will be published in August 2012 of Canadian Lawyer.

Indigenous Lawyers Win the Social Responsibility Award in the 2011 Canadian General Counsel Awards

Please join the Indigenous Bar Association in congratulating the Chippewas of Rama First Nation General Counsel's Office -- IBA members Jeffery Hewitt, Margaret Froh and Sheri Wilson -- upon receiving the Social Responsibility Award in the 2011 Canadian General Counsel Awards. The Social Responsibility Award is a new award given to a law department with a sustained commitment to making a difference in their community through the promotion of pro bono and/or diversity initiatives. The Rama General Counsel's Office is sharing this award with the Royal Bank of Canada in recognition of their community centered approach to providing in-house legal services.

For more info about the CGC Awards click here

Roberta Jamieson named one of Canada's Most Powerful Women for 2011

December 1, 2011 – Roberta Jamieson, National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation President and CEO has been named one of Canada's Most Powerful Women for 2011 in the Trailblazers & Trendsetters category.

With a community of 584 women that have received the Top 100™ Award, this year Ms. Jamieson joins a number of influential women, Dr. Carol Stephenson, Dean, Richard Ivey School of Business; Elyse Allan, President and Chief Executive Officer, GE Canada; Janet Holder, President, Enbridge Gas Distribution Inc.; The Honourable Marjory LeBreton, Leader of the Government in the Senate; Margaret Atwood, Author; and Deepa Mehta, Director, Producer and Screenwriter.

"Roberta has been at the forefront of virtually every field of endeavour she has pursued. From graduating as Canada's first First Nations woman to earn a law degree to being the first woman elected Chief of the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory, Roberta is virtually the definition of Trailblazer & Trendsetter," said National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation Board Chair, David Tuccaro.

"I am honoured to be among some of the most distinguished and inspirational women in the country. I am delighted that I am able to bring awareness to the potential that all Indigenous people, especially our youth possess."

The Women's Executive Network which runs the Top 100™ Awards, is Canada's leading organization dedicated to the advancement and recognition of women in management, executive, professional and board roles.

This is Ms. Jamieson's third time as a recipient of Women's Executive Network's Top 100™ Award.

To read Ms. Jamieson's full biography, please visit:

David C. Nahwegahbow, I.P.C. – Recipient of the 2011 Law Society of Upper Canada Medal

David C. Nahwegahbow

Please join the Indigenous Bar Association in congratulating David C. Nahwegahbow, I.P.C., upon receiving a Law Society of Upper Canada Medal.

The Law Society's Medal is awarded to outstanding lawyers in Ontario in recognition of exceptional service. David is a founding member of the IBA and former IBA President. David has been widely recognized as an expert in Aboriginal Law and has long been an outstanding role model for Indigenous lawyers in Canada. David was named an 'Indigenous Peoples' Counsel' or 'IPC' by the IBA in 2003, and in 2008 he received both the National Aboriginal Achievement Award for Law and Justice and the Anishnabek Lifetime Achievement Award from the Union of Ontario Indians.

David will receive the LSUC Medal in a public awards ceremony on Wednesday, May 25, 2011 at the Law Society of Upper Canada, Osgoode Hall, 130 Queen Street West, Toronto. The ceremony begins at 5:30pm and will be followed by a reception. We hope you will join us at the Awards to celebrate David's achievements. For more info click here


Roger Jones, I.P.C. – Recipient of the 2011 National Aboriginal Achievement Award for Law & Justice

Roger Jones

Please join the Indigenous Bar Association in congratulating Roger Jones, I.P.C., upon receiving the 2011 National Aboriginal Achievement Award for Law & Justice. Roger was the founding president of the IBA and has long been recognized for his contributions to law and policy advancing the interests of Indigenous Peoples in Canada and beyond. He has been a wonderful role model for young Indigenous lawyers and served as mentor to many.
For more info click here…


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