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 in good standing with the Law Society of New Brunswick for 23 years and is currently a Professor and the Chair in Indigenous Governance at Ryerson University. She comes from a large family of 8 sisters and three brothers. Pam has two sons, Mitchell and Jeremy, who are also active in the community.

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 Indigenous and constitutional law.

Pam has been studying, volunteering and working in First Nation issues for over 30 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 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 includes Indigenous law, sovereignty and nation-building. 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.

Her most recent book: Warrior Life: Indigenous Resistance and Resurgence is her latest collection of anti-colonial writings which challenge genocide, racism and oppression of Indigenous peoples. She is a well-known speaker, presenter and educator on Indigenous issues both across Canada and internationally, having spoken in Samoa, Peru, Switzerland, England, Belgium and the United States. She is frequently called as an expert before Parliamentary and United Nations committees dealing with laws and policies impacting Indigenous peoples.

View Chair in Indigenous Governance at Ryerson University website.


Dalhousie University
Doctorate in the Science of Law (JSD)
Conferred: October 2009
Thesis: Beyond Blood: Rethinking Aboriginal Identity and Belonging

Dalhousie University
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


Liberty Award for Excellence in Legal Advocacy (2018)
BC Civil Liberties Association

Power List: Top 25 Most Influential Movers & Shakers (2017)
Financial Post Magazine

Award for Excellence in Human Rights (2017)
Atlantic Human Rights Centre

Honorary Doctorate of Laws (2017)
University of New Brunswick

Margaret Mead Award in Social Justice (2016)
International Community Corrections Association

J. S. Woodsworth Woman of Excellence Award in Human Rights and Equity (2016)
Ryerson University

21 Inspirational First Nation, Metis, Inuit Women Leaders (2016)
Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario

Ryerson’s Aboriginal Role Model (2016)
Ryerson University

UNB Alumni Award of Distinction (2015)
University of New Brunswick

Building a Better World Designation: Nation-Builder (2014)
Dalhousie University

Canada’s Top Visionary Women Leaders: Top 23 (2014)
A Bold Vision

Top 25 Most Influential Lawyer: Top 5 in Human Rights (2013)
Canadian Lawyer Magazine

Bertha Wilson Honour Society (2012) (Inaugural Inductee)
Dalhousie Law School

Women’s Courage Award in Social Justice (2012)
The Anna Aidoo Show

Woman of Distinction Award in Social Justice (2012)
YWCA | Palmater awarded YWCA distinction award
Rabble.ca | Pamela Palmater named YWCA Woman of Distinction