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Media Contacts

Ministry of Health

250 952-1887 (media line)


Investigator Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond

Mary Turpel-Lafond currently practises as senior associate counsel at Woodward and Company.

She brings her extensive experience in the field of Aboriginal law to her current practice, in which she appears at all levels of court on cases relating to land claims, Indigenous and human rights matters, and public law litigation. She is a tenured full professor of law at Peter Allard Hall School of Law at the University of British Columbia (UBC), director of UBC’s Residential School History and Dialogue Centre and served as a Saskatchewan provincial court judge for 20 years.

Turpel-Lafond is a member of Saskatchewan’s Muskeg Lake Cree Nation and in 1998 was the first Aboriginal woman appointed to the judicial bench of the provincial court of Saskatchewan.

During her time on the bench, Turpel-Lafond was actively involved in projects relating to better supports for Indigenous peoples, specifically the unique circumstances and needs of youth involved in the justice system. Ceaselessly advocating for children’s human rights, she later served as B.C.’s first representative for children and youth (2006-16), a role in which she advocated for more than 17,000 youths and their families, most of whom were Indigenous.

Turpel-Lafond holds a doctorate in law from Harvard Law School (S.J.D.), a master’s in international law from Cambridge University (Gonville and Caius College), a J.D. law degree from York University’s Osgoode Hall and a bachelor of arts degree from Carleton University. She also holds a certificate in the international and comparative law of human rights from the University of Strasbourg.

Turpel-Lafond has been awarded the distinction of Indigenous Peoples’ Counsel from the Indigenous Bar Association. She also received the Bill McFarland Award from the Parent Support Services Society of B.C. for outstanding commitment to the prevention of child abuse. She is a recipient of the Perry Shawana Award for her leadership and championship for the voices and rights of children. She was selected as a Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation mentor to help guide the next generation of leaders in the social sciences and humanities.