Indigenous Lawyer, Author & Activist
Dr. Pamela Palmater is a Mi’kmaw lawyer, professor, author, and social justice activist from Ugpi’ganjig (Eel River Bar First Nation). She has 4 university degrees, including a Doctorate in Law from Dalhousie University specializing in Indigenous law. She currently holds the position of full Professor and Chair in Indigenous Governance at Toronto Metropolitan University.
Pam was one of the spokespeople and public educators for the Idle No More movement and advocates alongside other movements focusing on social justice and human rights. She is frequently called as a legal expert before Parliamentary, Senate and United Nations committees dealing with laws and policies impacting Indigenous peoples and is considered one of Canada’s Top 25 Influential Movers and Shakers by the Financial Post.
The final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Indian residential schools made 94 Calls to Action for governments, churches, universities, media, businesses, and all Canadians to address the ongoing legacy of those schools. Unfortunately, some have come to use the term in a superficial or symbolic way leaving the status quo of racism and injustice untouched. In this presentation, Dr. Palmater calls on Canadians to embrace the discomfort and uncertainty associated with real, substantive reconciliation – the kind that mandates land back and respecting the right of Indigenous peoples to be self-governing over their lands and resources. If it doesn’t hurt, it’s not real reconciliation.
At the heart of tribal enrollment for Native Americans and band membership for First Nations is kinship bound together by collective history, culture, language, traditions, with living relationships in large extended families tied to territory. Yet, pretendians – those who falsely assert and exploit an Indigenous identity based on one ancestor from hundreds of years of ago (or none at all) – appropriate Indigenous places, spaces, and voices in universities, governments, media, and the arts, leaving real Indigenous peoples on the sidelines. In this presentation, Dr. Palmater calls on Canadians to support the call by First Nations, Inuit, and the Metis Nation in Canada, as well as Native Americans in the US, to support Indigenous calls for action to end this fraudulent practice and respect the right of Indigenous nations to decide who does and does not belong.
At the heart of social justice in any society is a set of basic human rights that ensure the respect of and protection for people of all races, genders, religions, and abilities – to live their lives free from discrimination, exclusion, and violence. Social justice and community well-being depend on us to live, assert and defend human rights every single day. Yet, extremist, far-right movements seek to tear the very fabric of society – our sense of community and caring for one another – and offers a darker, more violent future for our children unless we act now. In this presentation, Dr. Palmater calls on Canadians and Americans to help educate our children, families and communities about how to navigate social media and the internet in an informed, critical way, so they don’t get pulled down the rabbit hole of hate, misinformation, fear-mongering, and far-right propaganda.