...the fact is that when the settlers came, the Indians were there, organized in societies and occupying the land as their forefathers had done for centuries.
Calder, SCC 1974
Consultation has to be more "than an opportunity for the First Nations 'to blow off steam'".
West Moberly, BCCA 2011
The Crown, acting honourably, cannot cavalierly run roughshod over Aboriginal interests....
Haida Nation, SCC 2004
Angela D'Elia Decembrini
I first became interested in the culture and history of Indigenous Peoples at a very young age, and this interest grew as I pursued my undergraduate degree in history and anthropology. By law school, I knew that I wanted to use my skills to work with First Nations seeking to protect and give effect to their Aboriginal rights.
My role is to work with clients to identify and understand their legal needs and to provide a vehicle for clients to address those needs and to pursue their goals. I have advocated on behalf of First Nations across Canada in various contexts and capacities.
First Peoples Law gives me the opportunity to work with an excellent team of lawyers and provide legal support to First Nations across Canada. This includes advising First Nations on natural resource development projects with a view to ensuring that their Aboriginal rights are respected and that their communities are able to gain real benefits from this development, today and into the future.).
I believe that helping Indigenous peoples to achieve tangible, positive legal results comes from listening closely to the needs of clients and working with them to craft solutions tailored to the needs of each community and situation. First Peoples Law allows me to focus on the intersection of Aboriginal, constitutional and environmental law, and on providing effective strategic advocacy to First Nations across Canada.
The impacts of resource development on Indigenous Peoples' rights is a global issue. Outside of my law practice, I work with a group of like-minded lawyers and law students to provide representation and legal support to communities in Latin America which have been negatively impacted by transnational resource extraction corporations.
Growing up on a small island on the Pacific west coast, I learned early about the close relationship between the environment and the people who live there. I try to bring my respect for the natural world to my practice and to my life with my family in Vancouver, B.C.
I have long been interested in how Indigenous Peoples can achieve justice through the Canadian legal system. I was drawn to the legal profession by a desire to work with Indigenous People in advancing their rights. I am particularly interested in the resurgence of Indigenous legal orders, the repatriation of Indigenous artifacts, and Indigenous land ownership.
As a clerk at the Federal Court, I witnessed how the achievement of positive outcomes for Indigenous Peoples depends on creative and thoughtful advocacy.
While there have been significant landmarks in the advancement of Indigenous rights, there is still much more to accomplish. The pursuit of justice for Indigenous Peoples is a generational struggle which I am honoured to play a role in. First Peoples Law provides me with an opportunity to work with a committed group of lawyers to assist Indigenous Peoples across the country.
I am a second year law student at the University of Victoria studying in the joint degree program in Canadian Common Law and Indigenous Legal Orders, following undergraduate studies in philosophy and astronomy. I am a settler of Irish and English ancestry and grew up as a guest in Syilx Territory in Kelowna.
Previously, I worked as a research fellow at the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation in Winnipeg, and most recently as a research analyst in the appraisal field of historical valuation. I have a deep interest in both Aboriginal and Indigenous Law and am grateful to be learning from such an experienced and passionate legal team at First Peoples Law.
For me, advocacy is bred in the bone.
My ancestors experienced the disloyalty of the French and British, the Acadian Explusion, the conquest of New France, the dispossession at Red River and government's refusal to honour the numbered Treaties.
I was focused on working for social justice through an academic career in history until I began working in the law with Louise Mandell, Q.C. (Mandell Pinder) and Stuart Rush, Q.C. (Rush Crane Guenther) on what I expected to be a temporary basis. That was over 15 years ago. Louise and Stuart introduced me to a world of principled, high quality legal advocacy that led me back to university for a law degree.
First Peoples Law combines my passions for law, history and social justice. Most importantly, it allows me to work with other committed professionals in supporting Indigenous Peoples' ongoing struggle for respect and justice.