National Indigenous History Month: Law and justice experts available


Experts to discuss missing, murdered Indigenous women inquiry and Aboriginal rights

TORONTO, June 3, 2019 National Indigenous History Month in June is a time to recognize not only the historic contributions of Indigenous peoples, but also the strength of present-day Indigenous communities.

The following York University Indigenous experts in Indigenous law and justice are available to discuss Aboriginal rights, federally-unrecognized Aboriginal communities, Indigenous language rights, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

Brock Pitawanakwat (Anishinaabe) is an associate professor in the Department of Equity Studies, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies. Pitawanakwat serves as coordinator of the Indigenous Studies program in the department and is a former researcher with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He has also written and co-written several book chapters and journal articles about Indigenous languages, political participation for Indigenous youth, and Indigenous resistance and revitalization.

He can comment on:

  • The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls
  • The Truth and Reconciliation Commission
  • Crown-Indigenous relations in Canada
  • Indigenous language revitalization
  • Anishinaabe self-determination

Bonita Lawrence (Mi’kmaw) is a professor in the Indigenous Studies program in the Department of Equity Studies, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, who also serves as chair of the department. Her research and publications focus on issues related to Indigenous identity, as well as equity, racism, decolonization and Indigenous justice in Canada. Lawrence is author of Fractured Homeland: Federal Recognition and Algonquin Identity in Ontario and "Real" Indians and Others: Mixed-Blood Urban Native People and Indigenous Nationhood.

She can comment on:

  • Decolonizing anti-racism
  • Urban, non-status and Métis identities
  • Federally-unrecognized Aboriginal communities
  • Indigenous justice

Karen Drake (Métis Nation of Ontario) is an associate professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, where she also serves as Director, Indigenous Outreach. Her research and teaching focus on Canadian law as it affects Indigenous peoples, Anishinaabe law, Métis law and property law. Drake serves as a Commissioner with the Ontario Human Rights Commission and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Human Rights Legal Support Centre. She also co-edited a book, Renewing Relationships: Indigenous Peoples and Canada, a collection of essays by Indigenous legal academics about renewing relationships between Indigenous peoples and Canada.

She can comment on:

  • Constitutionally-protected Aboriginal rights
  • Legal education in promoting reconciliation
  • Métis and Anishinaabe legal issues
  • Indigenous language rights

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Media Contact: Vanessa Thompson, York University Media Relations, 647-654-9452,