Dr. Pamela D. Palmater is a Mi’kmaw citizen and member of the Eel River Bar First Nation in northern New Brunswick. She has been a practicing lawyer for 18 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. Her and her partner have six children ranging in age from 8 to 24.
She has 4 university degrees, including a BA from St. Thomas in Native Studies, and an LLB from 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 for her social justice advocacy on behalf of First Nations generally, and Indigenous women and children specifically, and most recently for her work related to murdered and missing Indigenous women. Some of these awards include 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, the J.S. Woodsworth Woman of Excellence Award in Human Rights and Equity, and most recently, the Margaret Mead Award in Social Justice.
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 has been published into a book, Indigenous Nationhood: Empowering Grassroots Citizens. 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 impacting Indigenous peoples.
Formal education and legal training is as follows:
Doctorate in the Science of Law (JSD)
Conferred: October 2009
Thesis: Beyond Blood: Rethinking Aboriginal Identity and Belonging
Master of Laws Degree (LLM)
Conferred: October 1999
Thesis: In the Path of Our Ancestors: The Aboriginal Right to Cross the Canada-United States Border
Law Society of New Brunswick
Bar Admission Course
Completed in June 1998
Admitted to N.B. Bar: June 12, 1998
University of New Brunswick
Bachelor of Laws Degree (LLB)
Conferred: May, 1997
Fasken Campbell Godfrey Prize in Environmental Law (Highest Marks in Environmental and
Natural Resources Law re: Aboriginal Rights)
Saint Thomas University
Bachelor of Arts Degree (BA)
Conferred: May 1994
Double Major: Native Studies & History