Dalhousie Law Journal


indigenous, Canada, law, assimilation, colonialism, dispossession, rights, resistance, scholarship, lawyers, legal profession, discrimination


For Indigenous communities and individuals in Canada, "Canadian" law has been a mechanism of assimilation, colonial governance and dispossession, a basis for the assertion of rights, and a method of resistance. How do Indigenous lawyers in Canada make sense of these contradictory threads and their roles and responsibilities? This paper urges attention to the lives and experiences of Indigenous lawyers, noting that the number of self-identified Indigenous lawyers has been rapidly growing since the 1990s. At the same time, Indigenous scholars are focusing on the work of revitalizing Indigenous law and legal orders. Under these conditions, Indigenous lawyers occupy a complicated space. This article considers scholarship about other outsider groups in the profession, including women and African Americans, and the existing literature about Indigenous lawyers, developing three themes: community and belonging after professionalization; expectations and discrimination; and the difference that Indigenous lawyers may make. The article concludes by addressing ethical questions raised by the proposal for a qualitative, interview based approach to studying the experiences and ethics of Canada's Indigenous lawyers.