Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond Appointed Provincial Judge

Reprinted with permission from
The Indigenous Times - Spring 1998 - pg. 28

Saskatoon, SK - Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond was recently appointed the first Treaty Indian provincial court judge in Saskatchewan's history. The appointment was made by provincial minister of justice, John Nilson, and the new judge will preside in Saskatoon.

Turpel-Lafond has a long list of accomplishments. Nielsen said she has had a brillant career as a lawyer and educator and will be invaluable to the people of Saskatchewan in her new role as a Provincial Court Judge.

She completed her first law degree at Osgoode Hall in Toronto, 1985, a Masters in International Law at Cambridge University, England, 1988 and a doctorate in law at Harvard Law School in Massechusetts 1991.

Turpel-Lafond, 35, is a member of the Muskeg Lake Indian band and has recently served as a key legal advisor at the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN), and practised law on the Asimakaniseekan Askily Reserve in Saskatoon.

She was the first Aboriginal person to receive tenure at a university law school in Canada while at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia and has taught at several law schools including the University of College of Law and Notre Dame Law School in Indiana. She has written and done research extensively on Aboriginal and law reform issues.

Turpel-Lafond has stated however, that she did not accept the appointment as a provincial judge to serve as an advocate for Indian people. Instead she has vowed to work hard for all the people of the province.

The first Aboriginal appointment to the Saskatchewan provincial court was Ken Bellerose, a Metis who joined the bench 21 years ago.

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