- BA / 82
Judge Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond left the Saskatchewan provincial court bench in February 2007 to act as British Columbia’s first child and youth representative, overseeing the province’s child protection system. Turpel-Lafond is an independent officer of the legislature who advocates on behalf of children and families, monitors public agencies and investigates the cases of children who die while in care.
Turpel-Lafond became a Saskatchewan judge in 1998 after practicing law in Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan. She was also a tenured professor of law at Dalhousie University. In 1999, she was named one of the top 20 Canadian leaders for the 21st century by Time magazine.
A member of the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation, Turpel-Lafond is the first treaty Indian and the first Aboriginal woman to serve on the Saskatchewan court bench. She has represented First Nation individuals and organizations, including the Native Women’s Association of Canada, the Assembly of First Nations, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, and the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations.
After receiving a bachelor of arts at Carleton, Turpel-Lafond earned a law degree from Osgood Hall, a master’s degree in international law from the University of Cambridge and a doctorate of law from Harvard. In 2009, she was awarded an honourary doctorate degree from B.C.’s Thompson Rivers University.
In 2005, Turpel-Lafond published a book on the history of the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation that was short-listed for a Saskatchewan Book Award.