The IBA congratulates Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond on her new role as the inaugural director of the Indian residential school history and dialogue centre and law professor at UBC

OTTAWA, ON – The Indigenous Bar Association congratulates Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond on her new position at the University of British Columbia (UBC). Turpel-Lafond will be the inaugural director of the university’s new Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre (IRSHDC). The Centre officially opened April 9, 2018.

In 2017, the Supreme Court ruled in Canada (Attorney General) v Fontaine that thousands of records pertaining to abuses at residential schools collected by the TRC are confidential and should be destroyed. The Court determined that the 38,000 accounts will be retained for a 15-year period, during which time the survivors can choose to have their records preserved. UBC’s IRSHDC’s aim is to preserve the records gathered by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and provide residential school survivors access to the records. UBC News indicated that,

[Turpel-Lafond] will ensure that the voices and the experiences of people who suffered at Indian residential schools in their childhood for a century are articulated and understood… will coordinate programming for residential school survivors and initiatives to inform UBC faculty, staff, students and the public about the history and lasting effects of the Indian residential school system, and work with individuals, families and communities on addressing the continuing legacy of the schools. Her role will also assure that the centre fulfills its promise to serve as a leading location for the many forms of dialogue required to fully respond to the Calls to Action of the Canada Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

This work is essential to addressing the needs of survivors, as well as for addressing the continuing legacy of the Indian residential school system.

Turpel-Lafond will also be teaching a course on children and the law at the UBC’s Peter A. Allard School of Law. Turpel-Lafond served as British Columbia’s Representative for Children and Youth from 2006 to 2016. Prior to that she served as a Saskatchewan Provincial Court judge for nearly 10 years and taught law at the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University.

Turpel-Lafond is of Cree and Scottish descent. She is a recipient of the IBA’s Indigenous Peoples’ Counsel Award. Her past work has significantly benefitted both children and Indigenous people, and her new role will ensure this work continues. The IBA is pleased by news of Turpel-Lafond’s new endeavour and expresses its gratitude and congratulations to a well-deserving IBA member.

The Indigenous Bar Association is a national 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. We are mandated to promote the advancement of legal and social justice for Indigenous peoples in Canada and to reform of laws and policies affecting Indigenous peoples.

For further information contact Scott Robertson, President of the Indigenous Bar Association at srobertson@indigenousbar.ca