Chair

Cynthia WestawayDirector/Counsel, Westaway Law Group, Ottawa, ON. Cynthia’s practice is focused on representation of First Nation, Métis and Inuit clients in consultation, rights, Title and Treaty, governance and business development matters, as well as natural resource and energy law as it intersects with Aboriginal lands, interests and economic development. Cynthia holds an LLM in Comparative Aboriginal law from University of Ottawa, an LLB from University of Western Ontario, and a Diplome francais-juridique from Laval University. She was a law clerk at both the Federal Court of Canada for Justice Yvon Pinard and at the Supreme Court of Canada for Justice L’Heureux-Dube.

   

Faculty

Chief RoseAnne Archibald, Ontario Regional Chief, Chiefs of Ontario, Toronto, ON. Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald of Taykwa Tagamou Nation, is a calm, respectful and heart centred leader, who has over 25 years of experience in First Nations politics. RoseAnne has dedicated all of her adult life to serving and striving to create a better quality of life and future for First Nations people. She represents a generational change, bringing diplomacy and encouraging unity in the First Nations political system, while breaking down barriers since the start of her political career, having been the first woman and youngest: Chief for Taykwa Tagamou First Nation (1990), Deputy Grand Chief for Nishnawbe-Aski Nation (1991), Grand Chief for Mushkegowuk Council (1994). She is also the first member of her community to complete a Master’s Degree. Archibald holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree and a Master’s Degree in Humanities from Laurentian University and has been awarded the prestigious “Canada 125 medal” for having “made a significant contribution to Canada” through Aboriginal leadership.

   
 

Jayme Benson, Executive Director, Lands and Resources Secretariat, Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN), Amherstview, ON. After graduating with a Masters in History from the University of Ottawa, Mr. Benson undertook contract research with the Office of the Treaty Commissioner in Saskatchewan. In 1998, he was hired as a research and policy analyst with FSIN preparing historical reports on a number of potential Saskatchewan First Nation specific claims. In 2006, he became the Director of the FSIN Indian Rights and Treaties Research Programme, which works on the development of specific claims for Saskatchewan First Nations. In 2012 he became Executive Director of the FSIN Lands and Resources Secretariat. Mr. Benson has been involved in a number of specific claim negotiations and settlements. He has worked with the Assembly of First Nations on a number of files including working groups set up to implement Justice at Last: Specific Claims Action Plan and the Joint Working Group set up to reform the Additions to Reserve (ATR) policy. He is currently part of the Joint Technical Working Group on Specific Claims as well as a member of the Specific Claims Tribunal Advisory Committee.

   

Zachary Davis, Senior Associate, Pape Salter Teillet LLP, Toronto, ON. Zachary Davis specializes in Indigenous rights law, with an emphasis on litigation and governance. His litigation practice focuses on a range of areas impacting Indigenous peoples, including constitutional law, administrative law, self-government issues and employment matters. Zachary has appeared before courts and tribunals across the country and at all levels of appeal the Supreme Court of Canada. He also provides advice and support to Indigenous communities on a broad range of issues, including self-governance, rights assertion and employment matters. Zachary is called to the bar in Ontario, Yukon, Alberta and Quebec.

   
 

Stephen Gagnon, Federal Representative, Indigenous Languages, Heritage Canada, Ottawa, ON. Over his career Stephen has held a number of positions with the government of Canada relating to Indigenous and Northern Affairs, both in the National Capital Region as well as in the Yukon Regional Office. Many of these positions were in the areas of land claims, self-government, and fiscal policy. He has also worked as Director General of the Education Branch at INAC, and was until recently Director General of the Specific Claims Branch. He is currently the Federal Representative for Indigenous Languages at Heritage Canada. In this role, Stephen has led the government of Canada’s engagement process for Indigenous languages legislation which aims to preserve, promote, and revitalize Indigenous languages in Canada.

   

Sharron Griffin, CPA, CA, Chief Financial Officer, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. Iqaluit, NU. Sharron Griffin is the CFO for Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., the designated beneficiary of the Nunavut Trust funds and tasked with safeguarding, administering and advancing the rights and benefits of the Inuit of Nunavut. Prior to her tenure with NTI Sharron worked throughout Nunavut auditing Public, Private and Not for Profit Organizations. Sharron’s experiences in the North have given her a first hand look at where the pitfalls lie if Organizations are not pro—active in preparing for events that arise. This includes proper controls and strategies to handle changing financial capacity.

   

Robert J. M. Janes, Q.C., Principal, JFK Law Corporation, Victoria, BC. Mr. Janes is a litigator with extensive experience in Aboriginal law. Recognized by Lexpert for many years as a leading lawyer in Aboriginal law, he has appeared at all levels of court in British Columbia, Ontario and Alberta acting for Aboriginal people. He has also appeared many times at the Supreme Court of Canada, the Federal Court and the Federal Court of Appeals. In addition to his litigation work, Mr. Janes advises nations involved in the BC Treaty Process.

   

Patricia Lawrence, Senior Counsel, Westaway Law Group, Ottawa, ON. Patricia brings many years of experience in Aboriginal legal issues, having worked as counsel in the Aboriginal Affairs Portfolio of the Department of Justice on major Aboriginal litigation, and policy issues from 2000 through to 2012. Patricia contributed to the government’s position on major Aboriginal rights and title matters before appellate courts across the country and the Supreme Court of Canada. She worked closely with the government’s litigation teams on high profile cases , and also provided high level strategic legal advice to the federal government on major Aboriginal files, particularly in the areas of s. 35 Aboriginal and Treaty rights, the Crown’s duty to consult and accommodate and the Honour of the Crown. Patricia obtained a Masters of Law degree in comparative Aboriginal and human rights law (LL.M.) from the University of Auckland in New Zealand.

   

Matthew Mehaffey, Counsel, Westaway Law Group, Vancouver, BC. Matthew Mehaffey has a law degree from the University of British Columbia and, prior to joining Westaway Law Group, had been the Principal at Mehaffey Consulting since 2005, having joined in 2003. In addition to administration of justice negotiations and treaty implementation management advice, Matthew specialized in fiscal negotiations, including financial transfer agreements, taxation and resource sharing agreements and funding for programs and services. Matthew participates in the Land Claims Agreements Coalition Fiscal Working Group, is a director of Da Daghay Development Corporation and recently co-authored a chapter in The Right Relationship: Reimagining the Implementation of Historical Treaties, Edited by John Burrows and Michael Coyle.

   

Frank Meness, M.A., J.D., Barrister & Solicitor, Kim Alexander Fullerton, QC. Frank was called to the Bar in Ontario in 2013, and recently received approval from the Quebec Bar to appear in court on specific matters there as well. From 1997-2007, Frank worked as a specific claims researcher, writer and assistant negotiator for his community, Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg. He was part of a team that successfully negotiated and implemented four specific claims, which involved the participation of the federal, provincial and municipal governments. Frank has been involved in all aspects of Aboriginal land claims in Canada at the local and national levels and on both sides of the table since the mid-1990s. From 2008-2012, Frank worked as a specific claims federal negotiator for AANDC at the Specific Claims Branch. Frank served on elected Council as Vice Grand Chief of the Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation Tribal Council from 2001-2005. He also was an elected band councillor from 2001-2006.

   

Renée Pelletier, Managing Partner, Olthuis Kleer Townshend LLP, Toronto, ON. Renée is Maliseet and grew up in Fall River, Nova Scotia. Her practice includes work on Aboriginal and treaty rights litigation and specific claims. She has litigated judicial review applications and appeared before various levels of courts on motions, trials and appeals, and was cited by the Supreme Court of Canada in the high-profile case R. v. Ipeelee. Renée regularly advises and represents her Indigenous clients on consultation matters, regulatory and environmental matters, reserve land management and impacts and benefits agreements. Renée has worked at Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto, volunteered for the Native Women’s Resource Centre, and worked with the Innocence Project about the case of Native American Activist Leonard Peltier. Renée was also a Native Court Worker at College Park Criminal Court. She is listed as a “repeatedly recommended” lawyer in the Lexpert Directory.

   

Romeo Saganash, Member of Parliament (NDP) for Abitibi-Baie James-Nunavik-Eeyou, House of Commons of Canada, Ottawa, ON. Romeo’s story is not a typical story — values from the Eeyou Cree, a childhood spent in the forests of Northern Quebec, a survivor of Residential School, hard work and education to become the first Indigenous Lawyer from the Université du Québec à Montréal law school, and a lifetime working to uphold human rights. His father was a hunter from the Broadback forest of central Quebec and his mother is the inspiration and foundation for her children and her community. Romeo was born on the shores of a lake in his parents’ tent because his parents lived a traditional lifestyle; the only language he heard and spoke for the first seven years of his life was Cree. After he finished residential school, Romeo was asked by his Chief to attend a conference on the 10th anniversary of the signing of the first modern treaty in Canada: the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement. It was there that his love for the law began. His accomplishments are many: he was one of the principal authors of La Paix des Braves – a landmark agreement between the James Bay Cree and the Government of Quebec – and he has been a key negotiator for many national and international initiatives, including the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Romeo founded the Cree Nation Youth Council in 1985, served as Deputy Grand Chief of the Grand Council of the Cree for a number of years. A passionate environmentalist, Romeo served as vice-chair of the Cree Regional Authority and Chair of the James Bay Advisory Committee on the Environment. His work in the economic sector with Creeco Inc. and the Eeyou Co. showed his understanding of how to balance our duty as stewards of the land with sustainable economic growth. Romeo has a son and two daughters and three grandchildren.

   

Laurie Sargent, Assistant Deputy Minister, Aboriginal Affairs Portfolio, Department of Justice, Ottawa, ON. A 1998 graduate of the McGill University Faculty of Law, Laurie was called to the bar in 2001. Laurie joined the Department of Justice in 2002 and has worked on a wide range of domestic and international human rights law and policy files. Laurie has also participated in workplace initiatives in support of departmental and government priorities, notably as past co-chair of the Advisory Committee on Persons with Disabilities. Prior to joining the Department, Laurie clerked at the Supreme Court of Canada. She also worked in Bolivia and Guatemala to advance the rights and interests of Indigenous Peoples in those countries. Laurie leads the Aboriginal Affairs Portfolio team working closely with others across Justice to provide integrated legal and policy advice during this time of transformational change toward a renewed relationship with Indigenous Peoples, based on the recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership.

   

Guillaume Vadebonecoeur, Partner, Financial Advisory Group, Deloitte LLP, Ottawa, ON. Guillaume has specialized as a forensic and investigative accountant since 1998, and uses his business, accounting and investigative expertise to undertake a diverse range of complex cases for a broad range of clients. Since 2001, Guillaume has worked extensively with First Nations and Indigenous organizations. He has been involved in a broad range of Indigenous assignments including business plans, damage quantification and litigation support services, program reviews, compliance reviews, specific land claim quantification, historical studies of spending patterns of funds in Ottawa Trusts, and governance and operations reviews. Guillaume has also assisted First Nations in the development of Community Trusts and acts an Administrative Trustee or Trust Administrator for Indigenous Trusts.