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ILSA Speaker Series 2024 - Day 2: Eleanore Sunchild

Tansi Ninôtemik,


The Indigenous Law Students’ Association’s 2024 Speaker Series continued yesterday. 





Continuing with the theme of Reconciling the Law After the Storm was Eleanore Sunchild, K.C. Eleanore is an Indigenous lawyer from Thunderchild First Nation and owns Sunchild Law. Eleanore’s talk focused on “Lessons Learned Thus Far Being An Indigenous Woman Lawyer in a Colonial System and Stories of Healing and Love." [1]


Eleanore Sunchild has worked in criminal law, Indian Residential School claims and appeared at the Supreme Court of Canada. [2] She received the King’s Counsel (then Queen’s Counsel) designation in 2018. [3] She was also the recipient of the Canadian Bar Association - Saskatchewan Branch’s Distinguished Service Award in 2024. [4]


Eleanore’s talk yesterday was a moving one. She discussed the struggles she went through as an Indigenous law student at the University of Alberta in the 1990’s, noting that it was a strange feeling to return to the Law Center for her talk. She also discussed some positive changes she saw upon her return, in particular, the Wahkohtowin Law and Governance Lodge (“WLGL”). Even with only a brief visit to WLGL and the opportunity to smudge within, she saw the value such an institution brings to the Indigenous students in the faculty.


Eleanore also discussed her time working in criminal law. She noted changes that she has seen over her career, especially the impact of R v Gladue on the sentencing of Indigenous offenders. [5] She also discussed her work with Residential School Survivors and the horrible memories of sexual abuse she listened to as part of that work. She explained that, sometimes, she was the first person those stories had been told to since they occurred decades before.


Finally, Eleanore spoke of her work with the Boushie/Baptiste family. Many readers will be familiar with the George Stanley trial of the murder of Colton Boushie, where Mr. Stanley was acquitted by an all white jury. [6] The emotion was clear on Eleanore’s face as she discussed the facts of the case, as well as the aftermath. The attendees were also emotionally affected by the discussion. Eleanore discussed the impact of the Stanley trial on the recent changes to jury selection and wondered aloud if, had those changes been in place for Mr. Stanley’s trial, if the outcome may have differed.


However, despite the difficult topics she covered, Eleanore ended her talk with a message of hope and healing for her listeners.


Tomorrow, we have another amazing speaker – stay tuned.



Until next time,


The ReconciliACTION YEG team



  1. University of Alberta Faculty of Law, “2024 ILSA Speaker Series” (2024) online: University of Alberta <https://www.ualberta.ca/law/about/ilsa-speaker-series.html>

  2. “Sunchild Law: Indigenous Justice Healing Trusted”, online: Sunchild Law <https://sunchildlaw.com/

  3. “Sunchild among lawyers honoured with Q.C. designation”, SaskToday (23 Secember 2018) online: <https://www.sasktoday.ca/north/local-news/sunchild-among-lawyers-honoured-with-qc-designation-4127898>. 

  4. “Distinguished Service Award” (2024) online: The Canadian Bar Association Saskatchewan Branch <https://www.cbasask.org/Who-We-Are/Awards-and-Recognition/Distinguished-Service-Award>. 

  5. R v Gladue, 1999 CanLII 679 (SCC). 

  6. Julian Brave NoiseCat, “I am Colten Boushie. Canada is the all-white jury that acquitted his killer”, The Guardian (28 February 2018) online:  <https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/feb/28/colten-boushie-canada-all-white-jury-acquitted>.

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