The Faculty of Law is pleased to announce that Claudette Commanda will become the Faculty’s first Elder in residence. Claudette Commanda, an Algonquin Anishinabe from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation, has dedicated her career to promoting First Nations rights, history and culture.
Given the enthusiasm surrounding the Common Law Section’s new Indigenous Law Stream, introduced in Fall 2016, and the steady increase of Indigenous students studying law at the University of Ottawa, the law school is reaffirming its commitment to making the Faculty a welcoming and supporting space for Indigenous law students.
“I am very grateful that Ms. Commanda has accepted our invitation to serve as the Faculty of Law’s first ever Elder in residence,” says Interim Dean François Larocque. “As an esteemed traditional knowledge keeper, distinguished alumna and member of the Common Law Honour Society, I cannot think of a better person to hold this important new position within our Faculty.”
Located on the ancestral territory of the Algonquin Nation, the Faculty is institutionally committed to implementing the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, including the creation of opportunities for our students to learn about the history and legacy of residential schools, Indigenous laws, treaties and aboriginal rights, and Indigenous-Crown relations. The Faculty has also made a number of changes to its student services and governance, including the creation of an Indigenous Affairs Coordinator position and the establishment of a steering committee on Indigenous Affairs of committed professors and staff.
As Elder in residence, Ms. Commanda will provide knowledge and guidance to students, professors and staff. She will lead the Faculty in cultural protocols or ceremonial blessings in appropriate circumstances, and her perspective will contribute to the Faculty’s ongoing efforts on the path to reconciliation.
Elder Commanda is a University of Ottawa alumna, having graduated from the Faculty of Arts (1993) and the Faculty of Law, Common Law Section (1997). She was inducted into the Common Law Honour Society in 2009. A devoted and inspiring mentor, Elder Commanda has taught at the University of Ottawa’s Institute of Women’s Studies, Faculty of Law, Faculty of Education, and the Aboriginal Studies Program, teaching courses on First Nations Women, Native Education, First Nations People and History, Indigenous Traditions, and Decolonization.
She is the Executive Director of the First Nations Confederacy of Cultural Education Centres, and has previously served on the Board of Governors for the First Nations University of Canada. She has served on the Kitigan Zibi band council on three separate occasions.