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Professor Tamara (Baldhead) Pearl- Using an "Anti-Dominance" Framework

Tansi Nîtôtemtik,


Today, Tuesday, March 7, 2023, marks the second day of the Indigenous Law Students’ Association’s annual Speaker Series. At 12:00 pm, Professor Tamara (Baldhead) Pearl will present on “Using an “Anti-dominance” Framework and māmawī wīcihitowin for a Multi-Juridical Future”. Details and information on how to register are available here.


Professor Tamara (Baldhead) Pearl, image provided

Professor Pearl is a Nēhiyaw iskwew (Plains-Cree woman) from One Arrow First Nation, in Treaty 6 territory and the traditional homeland of the Métis. [1] She is a trailblazer in Indigenous legal research, currently completing a Ph.D. in Law at the University of Ottawa, while simultaneously shaping the future generation of legal professionals as an assistant professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Alberta.


As part of the ILSA Speaker Series, Professor Pearl will be speaking about her Ph.D. research, focusing on “anti-dominance” training which challenges the dominance dynamics of the settler colonial framework imposed upon Indigenous Peoples”. [2]


The concept of dominance dynamics is rooted in the myth that the country known as Canada has two founding people- the French and the English. These groups falsely asserted dominance over the first peoples of Canada, and this idea of dominance underlies many aspects of our culture. It is especially pertinent in terms of Canada’s legal system, where the country recognizes Civil and Common law, but does not recognize Indigenous law on the same level.


Professor Pearl highlights that “Indigenous peoples are not minorities that simply seek respect for our differences and some form of protection against adverse treatment within Canadian law and society. Indigenous peoples are distinct nations with our own legal traditions, cultures, and homelands here on Turtle Island, even if the settler-colonial project makes this fact less obvious than it should be.” [3] For these reasons, her teaching focuses on anti-dominance instead of anti-racism.


The term “Māmawī Wīcihitowin” is Nēhiyawin (Plains Cree) for “Working Together, Helping One Another”. [4] This concept is the basis for Professor Pearls’ vision of a multi-juridical Canada. In her classes, Professor Pearl teaches future lawyers how to “confront the educational deficit created by settler colonialism and its self-serving narratives of dominance”. [5]


“Professor Pearl aims to contribute to training legal practitioners using anti-dominance to respectfully engage with Indigenous legal traditions and communities while using Treaty relationships as a guide. Her goal is to help train law students to not only better our communities but bridge them by using the Nēhiyawak or Plains Cree concept: māmawī wīcihitowin.” [6]


Professor Pearl’s research on anti-dominance and Māmawī Wīcihitowin is ground-breaking and unique to legal scholarship. This brief introduction to anti-dominance cannot compare to the wisdom she will share in her presentation.


I hope that you will join us this afternoon for her presentation as part of the ILSA Speaker Series.

This event runs from 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm on Tuesday, March 7th. In-person registration is at capacity, but you can sign up to participate virtually here.


Until next time,

Team ReconciliACTION YEG




[1] Faculty of Law, “2023 ILSA Speaker Series” (last visited 6 Mar 2023), University of Alberta, online: <www.ualberta.ca/law/about/ilsa-speaker-series.html>.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Tamara (Baldhead) Pearl, Māmawī Wīcihitowin: Colonization Is Not About Sharing Space. The Treaties Are (LLM thesis, University of Saskatchewan, 2020) [unpublished] at 79, online (pdf): <harvest.usask.ca/bitstream/handle/10388/13097/PEARL-THESIS-2020.pdf>.

[5] Tamara (Baldhead) Pear, “Working together, helping one another” (8 Jun 2021), CBA/ABC National, online: <nationalmagazine.ca/en-ca/articles/the-practice/legal-education/2021/working-together-helping-one-another>.

[6] Supra note 1.

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