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Northern Wildflower: Law degree in hand, grandbaby on the way

It’s been awhile since I wrote home. I’ve been so busy with articling that I haven’t had much time for anything else, even writing.

It’s been awhile since I wrote home. I’ve been so busy with articling that I haven’t had much time for anything else, even writing.

For those of you who may not know what articling is, it’s basically the same thing as being an apprentice. I have to article for one year and write the bar exam before I can say I’m actually a lawyer.

Since graduating from law school in the spring a lot has happened. First of all, I never thought I’d make it this far. Law school was hard and there were many times I was tempted to give up but I stayed the course and proudly walked across the stage to accept my degree in my moccasins that my grandmother made and my beaded stoll that my mother put together. And because life sometimes has a terrible sense of humour, I broke up with my boyfriend of two years and moved out of a $1 million home on the day of my graduation. It wasn’t planned but that’s the way things go sometimes. It was a difficult decision to leave but a fresh start was needed and we were both on very different paths. My daughter and I are happy now in our new place with our pets and my growing book collection, just a few blocks from the ocean. But we miss our family and will be home for Christmas for a few weeks as we are expecting a new member of the family. I’m going to be a grandma! My grandson is due right around Christmas and I am so excited to meet him!

I plan to stay in the south for a few more years as my daughter is still in high school and doesn’t want to leave her friends. So I found an articling gig at a law firm based in Vancouver at the end of the summer after a much needed break from all things law. With my new job, I get to work remotely so I set up a home office in my living room, which is convenient, almost too convenient because my snack intake has gone up being so close to the fridge. I’ve been working on things like wills and estates and reviewing employment disputes but there’s nothing more that I would rather do than take on cases in the NWT. Unfortunately, our law firm does not have a licence to practise in the NWT yet. Once I’m done articling, I will make sure to be available for Northern clients as there are many opportunities for lawsuits just waiting to happen in the NWT that I can’t wait to get started on.

The whole reason why I went into law in the first place is to fight for Indigenous rights in the North. Thankfully, at work I’m learning a lot about charter rights and how to litigate. What I’m taking away from this experience is that the law is very complicated and twisted when it comes to Indigenous rights. I feel like I’m untangling a web of deep-seated lies that trace back to the start of contact in pre-colonial times where every possible hopeful solution leads to a dead end, and I’m forced to start all over again searching for a way out of an entangled, complex mess.

I want to get to work immediately but for now I have my head down in the fields of research, trenching and sowing seeds, conflicted in having to know the law, trying to find ways to infiltrate through endless text, aggrieved that I have to read tirelessly day in and day out, learning about the fraudulence behind certain aspects of common law, like how it came to be that the Crown was able to rule the land. After a long day of working at my computer I’m often lulled into sleep but there’s an unsettling, restless unease inside of me that won’t go away until I’m finally able to use the knowledge I’ve gained towards change. With my hands temporarily tied behind my back, the least I can do is have some fun, so I dressed up as lady justice for Halloween and almost won best costume at a Halloween event but lost to a guy dressed up as a bucket of KFC chicken.

While labouring in the fields of law, my thirst has been quenched by an oasis in the distance, or better yet by the dawn of day slowly rising up over the hill. A promise that the seeds that have been sown will yield abundance (even without cows and plows, only some of you will get this joke). Five years ago, I could barely get any publishers to look at my work, let alone accept it for publication. Now I have two literary agents who are working on my behalf and two major publishing houses want me to write a manifesto on climate change from a Dene perspective. I absolutely owe this success to my sobriety. It was only when I quit drinking that I was able to get a law degree, publish three books and have another two waiting in the queue. Sobriety brings clarity and a lot of free time to dream and create.