Dr. Pamela D. Palmater is a Mi’kmaw citizen and a member of the Eel River Bar First Nation in northern New Brunswick.
She has been a practicing lawyer for 16 years and is currently an Associate Professor and the Chair in Indigenous Governance at Ryerson University. She comes from a large family of 8 sisters and three brothers.
She has four university degrees, including a BA from St. Thomas in Native Studies, and an LLB from the University of New Brunswick (UNB) where she won the Faskin Campbell Godfrey prize in natural resources and environmental law. She went on to complete her Masters and Doctorate in Law from Dalhousie University Law School, specializing in First Nation law.
Pam has been studying, volunteering and working in First Nation issues for over 25 years on a wide range of social, political and legal issues, like poverty, housing, child and family services, treaty rights, education and legislation impacting First Nations. She came in second in the Assembly of First Nations election for National Chief in 2012 and was one of the spokespeople, organizers and public educators for the Idle No More movement in 2012-13.
She has been recognized with many awards and honours; the 2012 YWCA Woman of Distinction Award in Social Justice, the 2012 Women’s Courage Award in Social Justice, Bertha Wilson Honour Society 2012 and Canadian Lawyer Magazine’s 2013 Top 5 Most Influential Lawyer in the Human Rights category, Canada’s Top Visionary Women Leaders 2014, and most recently, the 2015 UNB Alumni Award of Distinction.
Pam’s area of expertise is in Indigenous law, politics, and governance. She has numerous publications including her book, "Beyond Blood: Rethinking Indigenous Identity", legal academic journal publications, magazine articles and invited news editorials. Her political blog, Indigenous Nationhood, has been reposted and reprinted in numerous formats and will soon become a book. She is a well-known speaker, presenter and educator on Indigenous issues both across Canada and internationally, having spoken in Samoa, Hawaii, Peru, Switzerland and England. She is frequently called as an expert before Parliamentary and United Nations committees dealing with laws and policies.
University of New Brunswick – UNB Alumni Award of Distinction – 2015
A Bold Vision – Canada’s Top Visionary Women Leaders: Top 23 – 2014
Canadian Lawyer Magazine’s Top 25 Most Influential Lawyer – Top 5 Most Influential Lawyer in Human Rights – 2013
Dalhousie Law School – Bertha Wilson Honour Society – 2012 (Inaugural Inductee)
Women’s Courage Award in Social Justice – 2012
YWCA – Woman of Distinction Award in Social Justice – 2012