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About Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond

The Honourable Judge Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond is a Professor at The Allard School of Law.
Professor Turpel-Lafond or Aki-kwe is a member of the Indigenous bar as well as the Law Societies of British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan. She was a Saskatchewan Provincial Court judge for 20 years (1998-2018) and served as B.C.’s first Representative for Children and Youth from 2006-2016, an independent Officer of the Legislative Assembly.
During her time on the bench, Professor Turpel-Lafond was actively involved in projects relating to improving supports for Indigenous peoples, especially in addressing the unique circumstances and needs of children and youth involved in the justice system.
Her work as Representative for Children and Youth included a detailed and systemic examination of the child serving system and she advocated for the human rights of children, resulting in many needed improvements.
In this role, she was responsible for case advocacy for more than 17,000 children, youth and families in all parts of the province of British Columbia, and across Canada, with the majority of matters involving Indigenous children and families.
Professor Turpel-Lafond holds a Doctorate in Law from Harvard Law School (SJD), a Masters in international law from Cambridge University (Gonville and Caius College), a JD from Osgoode Hall at York University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Carleton University. She also holds a Certificate in the International and Comparative Law of Human Rights from the University of Strasbourg.
Early in her career, she was a tenured law professor at Dalhousie Law School. She instructed in a number of law schools across Canada and the United States. She has appeared at all levels of court in Canada and served as a mediator and negotiator on land claims, Indigenous and human rights matters, and worked in public law litigation. She is the author of more than 50 published works and reports.
Professor Turpel-Lafond was awarded the distinction of Indigenous Peoples' Counsel from the Indigenous Bar Association in 2006. She has been awarded honourary degrees from nine Canadian universities and schools of Law.
Professor Turpel-Lafond enjoys family activities with her relations at Muskeg Lake Cree Nation and her close friends and relations in the First Nations communities throughout British Columbia and Canada. She relaxes and finds joy during the time she spends on the water captaining her tugboat, the Alpha Rose, in the Pacific Northwest.


Present Professor, Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia



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