I was heavily influenced by the older people around me. I would quietly sit in corners, at tables and on stair wells to absorb the stories of the adults in my life. Those stories of life and lessons and connections fascinated me. Watching the matriarchs around be guide, shape and build our family. Repairing and mending through dinners, family gatherings and visits, trips to grandmas.
Little did I know I was absorbing family laws. Little did I know that those moments of watching my elders teach and story tell would be the path of my life.
I have now worked in the discipline of law since I was 18 years old, first as a Native Court Worker. I also started an Arts degree in Canadian history but soon discovered I could go into law school even before I had finished that degree so, off to law school I went. Then, off to grad school in an ivy league lane I had never anticipated would be open to me, Harvard Law School.
Since my early idea of law as a black letter format imposed on people, I have moved and shaped my life around and through law in every way. I have taught law, practiced law, designed law programs and studied, in detail, the impact of law on the legal actor’s mental health. I know law. I chose law and law may have even chosen me at my grandma’s kitchen table.
Eventually my work with Indigenous communities and the wealth of Elders and teachers I was exposed to further expanded my understanding of law. As they began to take me aside and teach me a law, another set of rules to find and live by, my perception of law grew and has continued to do so. Law, can be seen through so many lenses and when you only look at laws made by humans our world view is so incredibly small. When you are asked to see law through a teaching from a baby, or the wind, or the sun and a tree, well, then law will take you to places you could not imagine going.
This is my passion and my life’s work. It looks a lot like storytelling and it is. The only way we learn in life is to live our own experience that shapes us and then we tell a story about it, or we hear a story that impacts us, stays with us, pulls at us and takes us on a journey. Story is how laws are shared and formed and reshaped in life.