Professor Nancy Sandy of Williams Lake First Nation, seen here travelling on the land in Tahltan territory, is heading up the new Indigenous Law and Justice Institute at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ont. (Patricia Squires photo)

Professor Nancy Sandy of Williams Lake First Nation, seen here travelling on the land in Tahltan territory, is heading up the new Indigenous Law and Justice Institute at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ont. (Patricia Squires photo)

WLFN professor named director of Lakehead University’s Indigenous law, justice institute

A lawyer, Nancy Sandy is also a former chief of Williams Lake First Nation

Nancy Sandy from Williams Lake First Nation is the director of a new Indigenous Law and Justice Institute at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ont.

“It is very exciting work for me,” said Sandy, who has been an assistant professor at Lakehead’s Bora Laskin Faculty of Law since 2018 teaching Aboriginal law and Indigenous legal tradition.

“The creation of this institute is an amazing thing because Aboriginal law is one of the faculty’s mandates.”

Aboriginal law is distinct from Indigenous law, as it is made by the Canadian state about Aboriginal rights under Section 35, whereas Indigenous laws emanates from within a nation and is primarily drawn from the land and expressed in the nation’s language, she explained.

“Other people might disagree with me, but that’s what I believe.”

A lawyer, herself, Sandy provided an example of what a legal process might involve under Indigenous law.

When looking at the land and the pollution of waterways, the waterways tell human beings they have to do things differently, in order to keep those waters flowing entirely to promote continual life, she explained.

Not recognizing the life of other beings on the land and waters that humans rely upon is an oppression, she added.

“Us as human beings aren’t the be-all and end-all. We shouldn’t consider ourselves above all other life.”

As the director, she will be responsible for getting the institute up and running with an aim to revitalize the Indigenous laws of the Anishinaabe and Métis in the Thunder Bay area.

“We don’t know what it is, so we have to do the research and partner with the community to do the research.”

A virtual pipe ceremony celebrated the beginning of the institute, but was held in Sugar Cane through Zoom with participants in Thunder Bay and Ottawa.

Sandy graduated from the University of British Columbia law school in 1987 and completed a masters of law degree in 2011 from the University of Victoria.

Her preference was not to be a litigator going into the court room, so primarily she has worked for First Nations political organizations.

“My education benefited me beyond anything I can say,” she said, noting she became the chief of her community and was involved in treaty negotiations and Aboriginal rights issues.

She has also dedicated many years to working in the area of child safety.

Through the Indigenous Perspectives Society in Victoria she helped develop training for social workers who worked for agencies such as Denisiqi Services Society and Knucwentwecw Society in Williams Lake.

Read more: Busy event for Denisiqi Family Fun Day

“I’ve been involved with that specific work since probably 2003 right up until 2018. I worked with many First Nations in the province developing policy or developing curriculum or strategic planning.”

Before Lakehead University, she had been a sessional instructor at the University of Northern British Columbia, College of New Caledonia in Quesnel and at Cariboo College in Williams Lake before it became Thompson Rivers University.

She said she went to Lakehead primarily because of her interest in Indigenous law.

Throughout her career she has written about her own people at Sugar Cane — the T’exelcemc — about their laws from their perspective and world views as opposed to that of provincial law.

“I am really not comfortable with picking up a piece of legislation and making it brown for instance,” Sandy said.

Another effort has been to become fluent in Secwepemc because she believes in order for First Nations people to be fully recognized as nations they need to be self-determining, and in order to be self-determining she needs to know her language.

Speaking Secwepemc was banned for a time period in B.C. and as a result, Sandy’s mother Anastasia never taught her children it because she was afraid they would be punished.

“In my master’s thesis, I talked about my mom and it was heart-wrenching. She did one thing to protect us to make sure we were safe and that was not teaching us our language. It’s a violent act to have our language taken away because that was our identity.”

Changes have been made in how the language is being taught to promote fluency, she added, noting the fourth dictionary is being developed as well as new curriculum.

Sandy said in other jurisdictions such as the U.S. and especially in New Zealand, people are writing papers, master’s and doctorate theses in their Indigenous language.

She credits her mother’s teachings for inspiring her to pursue becoming a lawyer.

“Growing up she taught us there’s no such thing as can’t. It used to be really frustrating, but it really came home to me when I started on my journey. She was the one who taught me that we had rights, that we are human beings just like everyone else.”

Canada’s Department of Justice is providing $437,139 for the faculty of law to launch the program.

Read more: School District 27 crowns new 2020 First Nations Role Models



news@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CaribooLaw & Justice

Just Posted

2021 Williams Lake Dry Grad Reverse Parade Saturday, June 12, 2021. (Angie Mindus photos - Williams Lake Tribune)
PHOTOS: Graduates line Western Avenue for 2021 Williams Lake Dry Grad Reverse Parade

Community members waited in line in their vehicles to congratulate grads

Ranch Musings columnist David Zirnhelt. (File photo)
RANCH MUSINGS: Placing hope for the future in our children and their children

I am trying to be sure to include that focus as part of an evolving work/life balance

Graduate Belle Riding is congratulated by Lake City Secondary School learning support teacher Gail Gardner as she makes her way across the stage to receive her diploma. (Greg Sabatino photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
2021 Lake City Secondary School grads take centre stage at Williams Lake campus ceremonies

Ceremonies took place over two days, with COVID-19 restrictions in place for second year in a row

BGC Williams Lake Sprockids participants get ready to hit the trails on Fox Mountain May 27 in Williams Lake. (Greg Sabatino photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Sprockids mountain biking program at BGC Williams Lake provides positive, outdoor outlet for youth

Sprockids aims to give youth the opportunity to saddle up on mountain bikes and hit the trails

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read