23rd Annual Rebellious Lawyering Conference
Dr. Pamela D. Palmater is a Mi’kmaw citizen and member of the Eel River Bar First Nation in northern New Brunswick Canada. She has been a practicing lawyer for 18 years and is currently an Associate Professor and the Chair in Indigenous Governance at Ryerson University.
She has 4 university degrees, including a BA from St. Thomas in Native Studies and an LLB from UNB where she won the Faskin Campbell Godfrey prize in natural resources and environmental law. She went on to complete her Masters and Doctorate in Law from Dalhousie University Law School specializing in Indigenous law.
Pam has been studying, volunteering and working in First Nation issues for over 25 years on a wide range of social, political and legal issues, like poverty, housing, child and family services, treaty rights, education and legislation impacting First Nations. Her most recent work includes a focus on police violence and murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls.
She has been recognized with many awards for her social justice advocacy on behalf of First Nations generally, and Indigenous women and children specifically. Some of these awards include 2012 YWCA Woman of Distinction Award in Social Justice, the 2012 Women’s Courage Award in Social Justice, Bertha Wilson Honour Society 2012 and Canadian Lawyer Magazine’s 2013 Top 5 Most Influential Lawyer in the Human Rights category, Canada's Top Visionary Women Leaders 2014, the 2015 UNB Alumni Award of Distinction and most recently, the J.S. Woodsworth Woman of Excellence Award in Human Rights and Equity 2016. She was recently appointed as an Associate Senior Fellow at the prestigious Massey College in Toronto.
Pam’s area of expertise is in Indigenous law, politics, and governance. She has numerous publications including her books, Beyond Blood: Rethinking Indigenous Identity and her latest book Indigenous Nationhood: Empowering Grassroots Citizens. Her political blog, Indigenous Nationhood has been reposted and reprinted in numerous newspapers and magazines. She came in second in the Assembly of First Nations election for National Chief in 2012 and was one of the spokespeople, organizers and public educators for the Idle No More movement in 2012-13.
Purvi is one of the nation’s premier thinkers on law and social movements. She has encouraged lawyers at every stage in their careers – as students, emerging lawyers, and senior lawyers – to deepen their imagination, vision and capacity to connect law and social change.
Most recently, Purvi founded Law4BlackLives, a national network of lawyers dedicated to supporting the growing Movement For Black Lives after her work supporting the uprisings in Ferguson and Baltimore. Before that, Purvi was the Bertha Justice Institute Director at the Center for Constitutional Rights where her work focused on deepening the theory and practice of movement lawyering across the United States and the world. While there, Purvi designed internship and fellowship programs; published training materials; organized national and international conferences; and built national and international networks to increase collaboration, innovation, and strategic thinking about movement lawyering.
Prior to CCR, Purvi worked as a litigator, law professor, and community organizer. Purvi co-founded the Community Justice Project at Florida Legal Services where she litigated on behalf of taxi drivers, tenants, public housing residents, and immigrants. She also was a law professor, serving as the Co-Director of the Community Lawyering Clinic at the University of Miami School of Law. She is a graduate of Northwestern University and the Berkeley School of Law at the University of California. Her work has been featured on MSNBC and in The Nation.
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