Change Makers: Meet Andrea Menard
This week, we are recognizing Indigenous leaders and legal professionals at the forefront of Indigenous law and reconciliation, and highlighting the vital work they do to advance Indigenous law and legal issues. Today's post highlights Andrea Menard because of her contribution to educating Canadians on the “impacts of colonization and systemic discrimination.”
Andrea Menard is an Alberta-based lawyer, descending from Treaty 1 territory, the historical home of the Red River Métis Settlement. Andrea saw firsthand the impacts of colonization, remarking that, as a child, she saw the disparities between how her Métis family members were living compared to how her white family members experienced life. As a young person, she wondered why her one family was so different from the other and made it her life journey to not only learn that reason but to “change that reality.”
Andrea’s résumé is extensive, with experience ranging from legal regulation, treaty-making, academics, and non-profit. Today, she is the Lead Educational Developer of Indigenizing Curricula and Pedagogies, assisting professors in decolonizing and indigenizing their curricula. She is also the co-founder of the Indigenous Lawyers’ Forum, an Alberta-based networking group for lawyers, law students and legal academics. She developed the University of Calgary’s’s groundbreaking course, Reconciliation and Lawyers, which has become “a paradigm-shifting model of how to apply Indigenous ethics and laws in legal education.” If that isn’t enough, she is also a part of the Indigenous Advisory Board for Criminal Justice with the Canadian Bar Association, which creates legal education for practicing lawyers and sits on the Board of Directors for the Alternative Dispute Resolution Institute of Alberta (ADRIA).
Call to Action #27 calls upon “the Federation of Law Societies of Canada to ensure that lawyers receive appropriate cultural competency training, which includes the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal–Crown relations. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.” Andrea’s work ties directly to the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action #27 as an Indigenous intellectual designer.
Her work focuses on bringing knowledge of Indigenous laws and applying that knowledge to Indigenous legal education in ways that are respectful of Indigenous cultural values, perspectives, and practices.Her work includes teaching not only university law students, but she also educates “academics and professionals on how to decolonize, Indigenize and apply Indigenous Legal Orders and ethics into their practices and lives.” Her process asks her students to get out of their comfort zones, to “unlearn and then relearn everything they understood about the way they have been educated in Canada.”
Over the past two decades, she has worked with Indigenous organizations, educational institutions, and legal entities, developing policies and procedures that are both culturally responsive, and inclusive, and that reflect Indigenous perspectives and experiences. Following the approach of many of our highlighted professionals this week, Andrea’s work also focuses on engaging with Indigenous communities in a reciprocal and respectful manner. Her efforts have helped to create legal frameworks that acknowledge and respect traditional Indigenous laws and governance structures.
Andrea’s work led her to be recognized in 2022 as one of the top 25 influential lawyers in Canada and has earned her a spot as one of Reconcili-ACTION YEG 2023’s legal professionals at the forefront of Indigenous law and reconciliation. Keep up the great work Andrea!
Until next time,
Team Reconcili-ACTION YEG
 Andrea Menard” (retrieved on 23 February 2023), online: Canadian Lawyer Magazine <premium.canadianlawyermag.com/ca-cl-top-25-most-influential-lawyers-andrea-menard/p/1> [Andrea Menard].  Ibid.  “Our Team: Andrea Menard” (retrieved on 23 February 2023), online: Centre for Consitutional Studies <www.constitutionalstudies.ca/team/andrea-menard/>.  “:about” (retrieved on 23 February 2023), online: Indigenous Connect <indigenousconnect.org/> [Connect].  Andrea Menard, supra note 1.  Indigenous Watchdog, “Call to Action #27” (9 November 2020), online: Indigenous Watchdog <www.indigenouswatchdog.org/cta/call-to-action-27/>.  Ibid.  Educate, Supra note 4,  “Andrea Menard” (retrieved on 23 February 2023), online: Linkedin </www.linkedin.com/in/andrea-menard-m%C3%A9tis-auntie-anti-colonial-scholar-503988174/>.  Andrea Menard, supra note 1.  Alex Lomas, “Meet CTL’s New Team Members, Alex Lomas, Andrea Menard, Bryan Braul, Dalbir Sehmby and Gian Marco Visconti” (24 May 2022), online: University of Alberta<www.ualberta.ca/centre-for-teaching-and-learning/news/2022/05/meet-new-team-members.html.>.  “Andrea Menard” (retrieved on 23 February 2023), online: Linkedin.  Andrea Menard, supra note 1.