Canadian Lawyer

April 2021

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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Page 12 of 51 11 calibre, functionally bilingual, and repre- sentative of the diversity of our country," according to the prime minister's news release. Since Abella was appointed to the Supreme Court from the Ontario Court of Appeal, according to the regional representa- tion convention, the application process will be open to qualified applicants from Ontario. In making an appointment, the govern- ment will be mindful that four of the court's nine judges are women, including Abella, says Cameron. "Maintaining that number will be an important consideration. Appointing the court's first Indigenous judge or judge from a minority community are other priorities in this process." With the "seismic" Black Lives Matter movement fresh on people's minds, expecta- tions of diversity may be at an all-time high, says Eugene Meehan of Supreme Advocacy LLP in Ottawa and a former Supreme Court executive legal officer. "In September 2020, the minister of justice held a virtual forum on diversity on the bench, so it is clear this government is focused on that goal," Meehan says. Although it is too early to speculate about nominations, there are several strong candi- dates from the Ontario Court of Appeal, from where Abella came. Associate Chief Justice Michal Fairburn and justices David Paciocco and Mahmud Jamal are among them. The prime minister also announced the Independent Advisory Board's seven members for Supreme Court of Canada judicial appointments. They will oversee the selection process used for the first time in 2016. Former prime minister Kim Campbell will chair the board. The application period will end on Apr. 2. President's Award for Aimée Craft Q&A Aimée Craft Associate Professor UNIVERSITY OF OTTAWA FACULTY OF LAW – COMMON LAW SECTION In February, Aimée Craft, an associate professor at the University of Ottawa's Faculty of Law, took home a President's Award from the Canadian Bar Association at its annual general meeting. Craft is recognized internationally for her expertise in Indigenous laws, treaties and water. Called to Manitoba's bar after earning an LL.B. from the University of Ottawa and an LL.M. from the University of Victoria, she returned to the University of Ottawa's Faculty of Law – Common Law Section in 2017. She teaches constitutional law, Indigenous juridical traditions, Indigenous people and the law, Indigenous legal mechanisms and water rights. Previously, she taught at the University of Manitoba, was research director for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and a litigator for the Public Interest Law Centre in Winnipeg. What drew you to your career? What drew me into this was a deep passion for the land — and having grown up on the land, in relationship with land and water, and understanding that special relationship that you can have as an Indigenous person . . . seeing everything around us as our relations and our kin and wanting to have that reflected in other legal systems that are imposing other ways of thinking . . . and making decisions that don't involve Indigenous people was a priority for me in how my legal career evolved. What are you researching now? The bulk of my work right now is in the area of decolonizing water governance; so, looking at Indigenous laws and legal orders relating to water and how we make decisions about water use. I've worked quite extensively in the Treaty 3 area [in northwestern Ontario and eastern Manitoba] on what's called a Nibi Declaration, which is a water declaration, [helping First Nations] codify the Anishinaabe relationship to water in a declaration form. Some other work is around Indigenous laws and legal orders and constitutionalism, relating to specific communities. And the third and fourth dimension of the work I'm doing is looking at concepts of personhood, of water and agency and spiritedness of water. Then, I'm starting to delve into Indigenous birthing as a form of territorial sovereignty and looking at women's jurisdiction relating to lands, waters, birthing and how those are connected. You have a children's book coming out on March 9? Treaty Words: For As Long As the Rivers Flow is about understanding treaty relationships and concepts like respect and renewal and reciprocity, as modelled in our natural environment. It's a story of a young person who's learning from her grandfather. I'm pretty excited about young people getting their hands on this and the discussions that are going to happen at family dinner tables and in classrooms, fuelling that idea that we're actually in relationships of sharing when we're in a treaty relationship. Years in law: 17 Career highlight: Publishing my book Breathing Life Into the Stone Fort Treaty and participating in treaty education and further discussion relating to the role of Indigenous laws and legal traditions in treaty-making and the interpretation of treaties today as agreements to share in the land. Career lowlight: Preparing a case relating to Treaty One as part of a provincial prosecution and having the charges stayed. The team and elders invested so much time and energy. I hope that some of that energy has been redirected to making change in other ways. "Justice Abella [has demonstrated] intellectual presence and leadership on the court over the past 17 years." Jamie Cameron

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