Canadian Lawyer

June 2022

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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10 www.canadianlawyermag.com FEATURE CROSS EXAMINED MICHELLE GOOD should by now be used to winning awards. Her novel Five Little Indians recently won the CBC Canada Reads competition, but the awards list is very long. However, one particular accolade that struck home for Good was an honorary doctor of letters from Simon Fraser University. Good says the award was deeply mean- ingful because SFU made it very clear the award was not just for her novel. It was because of her life of advocacy and support for Indigenous residential school survivors. Good's advocacy goes back many decades before the release of Five Little Indians. She has worked as an activist, teacher, and lawyer, fighting on behalf of Indigenous communities, since the 1970s. Good is of Cree ancestry, a descendent of the Battle River Cree and a Red Pheasant Cree Nation member. Her mother lost her Indian status when she married a non-In- digenous person, so Good saw how the law could result in injustice for Indigenous people from an early age. Good was born in Kitimat, British Columbia and moved to Vancouver when she was a teenager. She lived in the Vancouver area until her early 20s, when she started which was surprising and frustrating. She applied in the Indigenous and mature student categories that she says had a more rigorous entrance requirement than for other students. Despite that, many law students "would claim that the only reason that Indigenous students were admitted was because they were filling seats named for Indigenous students. Which, of course, is just so racist and absurd." Good split her articles between what was then Fraser Milner and Rush Crane Guenther, a labour and Aboriginal law boutique. She says it was challenging to find an articling position as a mature student. She was asked "outrageous ques- tions" like what she would do if she were representing a company where there was a conflict with an Indigenous group. working with First Nations communities throughout BC. Good says seeing how Indigenous issues were deeply wrapped up in the law inspired her to want to pursue a legal career. "It was because of an erroneous conflation between the notion of law and the notion of justice. I had a profound sense of justice early in my life." When she eventually started her legal studies at UBC in the late 1990s, "it was kind of a shock to take a closer look at the whole paradigm and to realize that really, law is about order.… Even though it is presented as seeking justice, it's not. It is seeking compliance with the rules in the name of social order." Good says she had good experiences at law school but was also subject to a lot of racism, "My clients were all survivors. I did almost exclusively residential school cases. And they were just the most wonderful, amazing people who taught me a tremendous amount in different ways" FROM LEGAL ADVOCATE TO AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR Michelle Good's novel Five Little Indians is just the latest example of her dedication to advocate for residential school survivors

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