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The Law Society of Alberta has committed to respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Calls to Action in a thoughtful and collaborative way that builds and strengthens relationships with Indigenous peoples and communities. As part of this response, the Law Society has established the Indigenous Advisory Committee to collect feedback and input on the initiatives of the Law Society. This will advance the goals of truth and reconciliation, particularly surrounding access to justice for Indigenous peoples and cultural competency development for lawyers. The Committee will work with the Indigenous Initiatives Liaison, Koren Lightning-Earle.
The Law Society has chosen the following:
- Four Indigenous lawyers: Racquel Fraser and Kane Richards for two year appointments and Harold Robinson and Sarah Lanceley for one year appointments;
- One non-Indigenous lawyer, Michael Pflueger for a one year appointment;
- Two Indigenous members of the public: Katelyn Lucas for a two year appointment and Jennifer Big Crow for a one year appointment;
- Law Society staff member Donna Moore.
The Law Society of Alberta is looking forward to working with the Indigenous Advisory Committee and continuing to advance our response to the TRC Calls to Action.
Racquel is Nehiyawiskwew and a member of Aht ahkakoop Cree Nation located in Saskatchewan. She is a co-founding partner of Fox Fraser LLP.
She attained her J.D. at the University of Victoria in 2011 and was called to the bar of the Law Society of Alberta in 2012. In that time, Racquel’s practice has covered a wide variety of practice areas based exclusively on the legal issues of First Nations people across the country.
She routinely works with her clients on advising on, and drafting, custom election codes, referendum regulations, constitutions, financial laws and membership codes. In every aspect of her work, Racquel prizes community involvement and utilizing the precious resources that Elders and traditional knowledge holders offer in order to produce community driven results.
She has extensive experience representing First Nations as borrowers in relation to secured lending transactions. She is adept at navigating security issues and negotiating priority issues including interlender agreements with the First Nations Finance Authority. Racquel also has unique experience acting for First Nations in relation to numerous litigation loan transactions which are a relatively novel type of bank transaction in Canada.
In addition, Racquel consults with First Nations on the development of trust agreements for the long term use and sustaining benefit of their memberships. Racquel utilizes education and relationship building with her clients so that they are in a position to make informed decisions and responsibly plan for the futures of their communities.
Kane is Metis. He was born in Manning, Alberta and was raised in Southern Ontario with frequent trips back to Peace River country. Much of his family still resides in Northern Alberta and he maintains a connection to that area. This connection led him to return to Alberta to pursue his law degree at the University of Calgary after completing his undergraduate studies at the University of Guelph.
Kane was called to the bar in 2011 after summering and articling with Alberta Justice. He started his legal career as a youth prosecutor in the Calgary Crown Prosecutors office and shortly after transitioned to a Crown in the newly formed CaRRRO regional prosecutions office in 2012. In 2013 Mr. Richard transitioned back to the Calgary prosecutions office in to the Domestic Violence Unit until moving to the File Ownership Unit in 2017.
Harold is a Metis lawyer and mediator from Edmonton, Alberta. He was admitted to the Alberta Bar in 1994. Harold was appointed by Cabinet in November 2018 to be Alberta’s first Commissioner of the Fair Practices Office (FPO). The FPO provides navigation and advocacy supports to employers and injured workers caught up in workers’ compensation matters. The FPO also reviews workers’ compensation decision-making processes for fairness and will identify and report on overall trends and opportunities for improvement. Harold is keen to elevate service delivery for all injured workers and employers during his term. One area of focus will be to determine whether Indigenous workers and employers are accessing workers compensation services and achieving positive outcomes on a level similar to non-Indigenous workers and employers.
Harold has taken on many challenging roles over his career, including:
- Secretary, Metis Settlements Appeal Tribunal
- Mediator, Canadian Human Rights Commission
- Trustee, Canadian Museum of Nature
- Panelist, Belcourt Brosseau Metis Awards
- Member, Phoenix Multi-Faith Society for Harmony
- Director, Homeward Trust (Edmonton’s 10 year plan to end homelessness)
- Mentor, Peter Lougheed Leadership College and U of A Faculty of Law
- Coach, community soccer
- Adjudicator, Indian Residential School Claims Process, 2004 – 2016
Harold is a big believer in continuing education and has studied at the Harvard Kennedy School for Governance and the Banff School for Leadership.
Sarah is a member of the Mistawasis First Nation, located in North Central Saskatchewan. Sarah is from Brandon, Manitoba where she attended Brandon University and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 2002. She graduated from the University of British Columbia law school in 2007. Sarah relocated to Edmonton where she articled for the late, Sid M. Tarrabain, QC, primarily in the area of criminal defence. She was called to the Bar in 2008 and stayed on at Tarrabain & Company as an associate for a few years.
In 2012, she went to work at Legal Aid Alberta, first with the Legal Services Centre, then with the Criminal Resolution Office and now with the Youth Criminal Defence Office. Sarah has acted as duty counsel in Family Court, Child Welfare Court, Criminal Court and Youth Court. She enjoys her work helping those individuals in most need of representation navigate the court system. In addition to youth criminal matters, Sarah continues to act as duty counsel in Mental Health Court since it started in April 2018.
Michael was born in the United Kingdom and raised in Alberta. He received his BA in Economics from the University of Calgary in 1990, and his LLB and MBA from the University of Alberta in 1995. He was called to the Alberta Bar in 1996.
Michael was a sole practitioner with a mixed practice from 1997 to 2005, when he joined Walsh Wilkins Creighton LLP to conduct commercial and general litigation on behalf of First Nations clients, eventually becoming a partner. In 2011 he found himself in-house for the Piikani Nation, managing external council and giving policy advice and developing bylaws. In 2017 he joined Eagle Law Group where his practice focuses on specific claims, land claims and related litigation.
Much of Michael’s work depends on expanding the cultural competence of the judges, lawyers and business people which whom he has come into contact. He also works to expand the legal acumen of his Indigenous clients and their understanding of Canadian legal and business culture. His goal is always to foster a common understanding.
Katelyn is Metis (Cree and Saulteaux) with family that comes from Saskatchewan and Northern Alberta, currently residing in Treaty 7 territory since 1989 and is actively involved in the urban Indigenous community as well as ceremonial connections throughout Alberta. Throughout the past 20 years, Katelyn has been actively engaged in working with urban Indigenous peoples struggling with homelessness, addiction, intergenerational trauma and criminalization.
Katelyn is the Executive Director of the Elizabeth Fry Society of Calgary. She adapted the entire agency structure and policies to influence the work from an Indigenous worldview with a strong emphasis on healing and wellness from Indigenous ways of knowing and natural law.
Based on the overrepresentation of Indigenous women and youth in the criminal justice system, Katelyn is focused on decreasing the numbers of those incarcerated by empowering opportunities that contribute to better choices, healing and connections to culture and community.
Katelyn has been a member of the Aboriginal Standing Committee on Housing and Homelessness (ASCHH) since 2010 and has been a co-chair since 2013. During this time, she has helped to evolve a stronger structure and strategic direction, as well as engaged the committee in collective action on the issues of Indigenous homelessness and housing through projects and research.
Jennifer Big Crow
Jennifer Big Crow is a member of the Tsuut’ina First Nation, located in the Treaty 7 area. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Calgary in 2005. Currently she is the Aboriginal Court Worker assigned to both Family and Criminal Court matters with the Tsuu T’ina Nation/Stoney Corrections Office. She works within the Stoney Nakoda communities of Morley/Eden Valley and Tsuu T’ina Nation, Alberta.
Donna earned a JD from the University of Saskatchewan in 1996 (MA in Sociology, U of S. 1993). She was admitted to the Law Society of Saskatchewan in 1997, practicing in Prince Albert (litigation, family and criminal law) with the Zatlyn Law Office and the Saskatchewan Legal Aid Commission. Donna was admitted to the Law Society of Alberta (2004) and practiced with several boutique firms focusing on advocating for predominantly Indigenous clientele.
In 2014, Donna transitioned in-house where she is now Legal Counsel for the practice management department with the Law Society of Alberta.