The Decade Dozen

From the Fall/Winter 2010 issue of Nexus.

Maggie Wente

Travelling to some of Canada's most beautiful spots to meet people in their home communities helps Maggie Wente, LLB/MSW 2002, advance her clients' goals of self-determination and self-government - and renew her Aboriginal ties.

She draws upon this first-hand understanding of Indigenous communities' traditions to win battles - without litigation - for First Nation children denied access to local schools by boards of education (due to jurisdictional 'limbos' of some kind), to help clients sift through the daunting challenges of drafting treaty negotiations to set frameworks for Aboriginal governments of the future, and to shed more light at the Ontario Human Rights Commission, as a commissioner, on First Nations issues.

It helps if you're a partner at the social justice firm of Olthuis Kleer Townshend in Toronto. "As part of that team, she has certainly moved First Nations' issues forward, and made the legal system more accessible to them," says Kim Murray, executive director of Indian residential schools inquiry, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and a lawyer from the Kahnesatake First Nation near Oka, Que.

Murray says she knew the first time she met Wente at Aboriginal Legal Services Toronto that she was an up-and-coming lawyer to watch. "She's honourable, intelligent and wholeheartedly dedicated to the Aboriginal community."

Not even juggling first-time motherhood could stop her from volunteering. "I remember thinking: 'Oh, my gosh, what are we going to do when she returns to work from mat leave?" says Murray with a laugh. "The amount of work, effort and time commitment that she gives completely pro bono is extraordinary."

"She has made all the right choices," says Sara Mainville, LLM 2007, lawyer and peer, and a member of Couchiching First Nation. "She's found the right firm, found the right clients, and found a really good fit for her skills, intelligence and abilities. She's definitely going to blaze her own trail."

Story: Lucianna Ciccocioppo

Photo: Jeff Kirk

<< Previous

Next >>