Professor Aimée Craft has been awarded the 2021 Canadian Bar Association President’s Award, which recognizes the significant contribution of a Canadian jurist to the legal profession and to the public life of Canada. Professor Craft is one of two honorees for this year’s President’s Award; the other recipient is Professor John Borrows, the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Law at the University of Victoria Law School. With this exceptional honour, Professor Craft and Professor Borrows join the prestigious ranks of past recipients which include former Chief Justice of Canada Beverley McLachlin and former Senator Murray Sinclair, among many other luminaries of Canadian law.
Professor Craft is an internationally recognized researcher in Indigenous laws, treaties and water rights, committed to promoting truth, reconciliation and decolonization. She is of Métis, Anishinaabe, French, Cree and Irish descent and has dedicated her career to working alongside Indigenous individuals and communities from a variety of Indigenous nations, both in the context of her academic scholarship and her professional legal work. Professor Craft’s exceptional interdisciplinary research initiatives on Indigenous legal traditions and Canadian Aboriginal law have allowed her to make a marked impact on Canadian law and policy, establishing her as one of our nation’s most promising legal minds.
Professor Craft’s research primarily explores Indigenous law related to protecting the earth and water. She works with many Indigenous nations and communities on Indigenous relationships with and responsibilities to nibi (water). She also plays an active role in international collaborations related to transformative memory in colonial contexts as well as the reclamation of Indigenous birthing practices as expressions of territorial sovereignty. Professor Craft has also been a crucial voice in Canada on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. In 2017, she served as the Director of Research at the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and led an inter-disciplinary team of scholars and writers in the production of an interim report that established a body of research assessing the level of response to date on recommendations made to end violence.
While Professor Craft’s disciplinary home is law, she has many fruitful collaborations in health, social work, Indigenous studies, history, gender studies, geography and more. She works to reach both academic and public audiences, and takes special care to ensure that her research program promotes knowledge exchange within Indigenous communities, fostering continued exchange between knowledge keepers and youth.
Professor Craft is equally committed to community initiatives within both the legal and broader community. During her tenure as chair of the Canadian Bar Association Aboriginal Law Section, for example, she helped make submissions to eight parliamentary and Senate committees on Aboriginal law issues and moved resolutions on the recognition of Indigenous legal traditions and the issue of murdered and missing Indigenous women. Her work on the Federal Court Liaison Committee on the development of Practice Guidelines for Aboriginal Law Matters and Oral History Evidence has been an important and substantive contribution to Canadian law. Flowing from this work, the National Judicial Institute (NJI) and the Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice have invited her to speak on emerging approaches to evidence, including methods by which courts can incorporate Indigenous knowledges into legal decision-making.
Congratulations to Professor Craft on this remarkable achievement! The Common Law Section notes that in addition to her impressive record of contribution, Professor Craft never fails to inspire all those around her with her unique vision, determination, insight, and collegiality.