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Rewriting the Rules

Date & Time
Friday, November 5, 2021, 4:30 PM - 5:30 PM

The reclaiming of Indigenous rights after a long period of colonization has, in many communities, prompted a deep reevaluation of governance and decision-making roles and authorities -- to the point that some Indigenous communities have written and ratified their own constitutions based on traditional knowledge and practices. Kilslaay Kaajii Sding Miles Richardson (Haida) and K̓áwáziɫ Marilyn Slett (Haíɫzaqv) share the experiences of two nations who are leading the way in rewriting the rules to protect their territories and take control of their destinies. Tara Williamson, a member of the Opaskwayak Cree Nation and a senior researcher at the Indigneous Law Research Unit at the University of Victoria, will moderate this inspiring discussion.

Session Type
Session Tags
Indigenous Teaching, Systems Change, Civic Engagement
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Kilslaay Kaajii Sding Miles Richardson, O.C., is a citizen of the Haida Nation and Canada. In 1984, he was the youngest person to be elected president of the Council of the Haida Nation, a position he held until 1996. During his tenure at CHN, Miles led the drafting of the Constitution of the Haida Nation; development of the first comprehensive Haida Nation land and marine use plan, enacted under Haida law; and negotiation of the Gwaii Haanas Agreement, the first nation-to-nation agreement between the Haida Nation and Canada, which protected the Gwaii Haanas area of his people’s homeland, Haida Gwaii.
In 1995, he was appointed a Commissioner to the BC Treaty Commission; in 1998, Miles was chosen as its Chief Commissioner and served in that role until 2004. In 2007, he was named an Officer of the Order of Canada.
Kilslaay Kaajii Sding Miles Richardson
K̓áwáziɫ Marilyn Slett has served as the elected chief councillor of the Haíɫzaqv (Heiltsuk) Nation since 2008, having previously been an elected councillor and the council’s executive director. “I believe effective governance blends Haíɫzaqv values with the modern realities of self-governance. Like many other First Nations we wrestle with significant constraints such as a lack of funding, the constraints of the Indian Act, and a lack of economic opportunities. Effective governance is the foundation on which we build our aspirations. It is only the Haíɫzaqv who can determine the best way for our community to contribute to important decisions. Our vision of shared, long-term goals charts the course from where we are to where we want to be. It is relevant to those in the present time and to those in the future generations.”
K̓áwáziɫ Marilyn Slett
As the Research Director at the University of Victoria’s Indigenous Law Research Unit, Tara Williamson acts as project lead and researcher and also presents and co-facilitates workshops about the ILRU’s research in the law school and broader community. Tara is also a research fellow for the Yellowhead Institute, as well as a writer and musician. Tara is a member of the Opaskwayak Cree Nation and was raised in Gaabishkigamaag (Swan Lake, Manitoba). She is fortunate and grateful to live on the unceded territories of the Lkwungen-speaking peoples and the W̱SÁNEĆ peoples.
Tara Williamson