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Turpel-Lafond, Mary Ellen (1963–)

On March 5, 1998, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond became the first Treaty Indian to be appointed Provincial Court Judge in Saskatchewan. Born Mary Ellen Turpel at Norway House, Manitoba, her academic background includes a BA (Carlton University), LLB (Osgoode Hall Law School), LLM (Cambridge University), SJD (Harvard), and a Certificate of International and Comparative Law of Human Rights (University of Strasbourg). Turpel-Lafond has taught at several universities, including Dalhousie University, where she became the first Aboriginal person to receive tenure at a Canadian law school. In 1995–96 she was Aboriginal Scholar at the University of Saskatchewan. She has also worked with the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, and prior to her appointment practiced law on the Asimakaniseekan Askiy reserve in Saskatoon. Turpel-Lafond has been involved with such issues as self-governance, restorative justice, human rights, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and the relationship of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities. Time magazine has recognized her as one of the 100 Global Leaders (1994) and as one of the top twenty Canadian leaders for the 21st century (1999). She has received an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Regina (2003).

Erin Legg

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