June Callwood

   June Callwood

The June Callwood Program in Aboriginal Law supports two distinct initiatives:

Named in honour of the well known Canadian journalist, author and social activist, the June Callwood Program supports the Faculty’s commitment to increasing the Indigenous presence at the law school and creating a vibrant and stimulating learning environment from which tomorrow's leaders in Aboriginal Law will emerge.

In combination, the June Callwood Program’s scholarships for Indigenous students and community internships enhance students' understanding of, and sensitivity to, the rights of Indigenous peoples and how they can be incorporated into law, government and public policy. Through the community based internships, the program allows students to gain practical experience in Indigenous community organizations and at the same time provide much needed support to these communities. Through the fellowships and scholarships, the Faculty is able to recruit some of the best and brightest students from around the world for study in the area of Aboriginal Law in both the graduate and JD programs.

Previous Callwood Fellows

Erika Voaklander 2018

Métis Nation of Alberta

For my Callwood Fellowship, I worked on a research project with the Métis Nation of Alberta, the Alberta Métis Government, their legal counsel Pape Salter Téillet LLP (PST), and my project was supervised by Toronto lawyer Zachary Davis.  The project required me to undertake both legal and historical research on Métis scrip issued to the Métis pursuant to the Dominion Lands Act in what is now Alberta.  My final product was a literature review and supplementary documents that set out the basic parameters of a legal claim against the Crown based on Métis scrip issued to Métis in Alberta. The project is a timely one as the Métis Nations are currently negotiating with the federal government to address outstanding claims against the Crown. Furthermore, the project gave me the privilege of delving into a fascinating and poorly understood legal problem that played a devastating role in my peoples’ history

 Erika photo smiling

Zachary Biech 2017

Aboriginal Legal Services

"For me, the Callwood Fellowship experience was transformative and impactful on both a professional and personal level. My Fellowship took place at Aboriginal Legal Services (ALS), under the supervision of Jonathan Rudin, ALS Program Director. My role as a Callwood Fellow was to provide research and editing assistance in the creation of a legal textbook for practitioners, through Emond Publishing, regarding Indigenous people and the Canadian criminal justice system. The research was wide-ranging, and the textbook covers a variety of topics, with particular focus on the nuances of Gladue considerations in sentencing and beyond."

Callwood Fellows (from left) Natalie Day, Zachary Biech and Joshua Favel
2017 Callwood Fellows (from left) Natalie Day, Zachary Biech and Joshua Favel

Deanna Roffey 2015

Legal Strategy Coalition on Violence Against Indigenous Women

"In summer 2015, I was a June Callwood Fellow with the Legal Strategy Coalition on Violence Against Indigenous Women, an organization dedicated to legal advocacy and research on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.

The Coalition develops legal resources that grassroots and Indigenous organizations and activists can use in their advocacy.  Producing resources intended for those who experience the issues firsthand was the most rewarding part of my Fellowship.

My supervising lawyer, Mary Eberts, was tremendously supportive.  In my Fellowship, I felt that my voice as an Aboriginal woman was valued just as much as my legal skills.  This was significant for me in light of the underrepresentation of my people in the legal field."

 Deanna Roffey

Vanessa Gurr 2014

Callwood Fellow, Industry Relations Corporation, Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation
As a recipient of the June Callwood Fellowship in Aboriginal Law, Vanessa Gurr spent the summer of 2014 working for the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) and its Industry Relations Corporation. She researched strategy for the band's legal challenge to Shell's development and expansion plans.  "They're extremely busy," Gurr said. "There are so many leases, so many prospective and ongoing projects, it's overwhelming sometimes."

Read more about Vanessa Gurr's Callwood Fellowship experience

Callwood Fellow  Vanessa Gurr, left, with staff at Industry Relations Corporation

Callwood Fellow  Vanessa Gurr, left, with staff at
Industry Relations Corporation

Emilie Lahaie 2012

Callwood Fellow, John Howard Society
"The Callwood Fellowship gave me the opportunity to work with The John Howard Society of Toronto, an organization that assists men who have been in conflict with the law. My role with the Native Inmate Liaison Officer Program included assisting with programming for Aboriginal men incarcerated at the Metro West Detention Center. To say experiencing the realities of incarceration and the struggles our clients face upon release to find housing, a job and fight addictions was eye-opening would be an understatement. I did not truly understand the incredible challenges those with a criminal record face on a daily basis. I'm so grateful to have had the opportunity to contribute my work to this amazing organization."

Emily Lahaie (left) at the John Howard Society

Emilie Lahaie (left) at the John Howard Society

Jonathan R. Charland 2011

Callwood Fellow, Métis Nation of Ontario
"The Callwood Fellowship allowed me to do research in a fascinating area of the law that has seen many recent developments and will certainly be changing with current cases such as the Cunningham case and the Hirsekorn case. It is exciting to be at the forefront of legal developments that will surely stand beside Powley in the Constitutional Law textbooks. Moreover, I have had the great pleasure of meeting many Métis citizens in the province, and making lasting connections to the MNO staff in Toronto. As a Métis, I want to thank Pro Bono Students Canada and the June Callwood Program in Aboriginal Law for this amazing opportunity to learn more about my people and where we are heading."

Justin Basinger 2010 

Callwood Fellow, West Coast Environmental Law (WCEL)
"Working at WCEL was fantastic. In addition to sharpening my legal research and writing skills, I benefited tremendously from spending time with aboriginal, environmental, and natural resources lawyers in a professional context. I really enjoyed the variety and unpredictability of working at a legal NGO. I am very intrigued by the important role the law and lawyers can play in public interest coalitions, and how a legal approach to a complex problem can often be the best one (or the worst)."

Justin Basinger


For information on Indigenous initiatives at the Faculty of Law, contact:

Manager, Indigenous Initiatives
Tel: 416-978-2583
E-mail: iio.law@utoronto.ca

Prof. Douglas Sanderson
Tel.: 416-978-8152
E-mail: d.sanderson@utoronto.ca

The Faculty has long been dedicated to enhancing the presence of Indigenous scholars and ideas at the law school. Whether it be recruiting Indigenous students to the Faculty, offering innovative courses in Aboriginal Law, or providing students with opportunities to put their legal knowledge to work on behalf of First Nation, Métis and Inuit communities, the Faculty has worked to enhance the Indigenous voice in our educational community.