University of Saskatchewan (USask) student Dominga Robinson aspires to use her legal education to work with and for Indigenous people and communities.
“As an intergenerational survivor of residential schools and the Sixties Scoop, I felt a personal drive to work to support Indigenous people and communities who are impacted by colonial legal systems,” said Robinson, who is pursuing a Juris Doctor (JD) degree in USask’s College of Law.
Robinson is a Nakota and Jamaican woman who is a member of the Pheasant Rump Nakota First Nation in Treaty 4 Territory. She grew up in Regina and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English at First Nations University of Canada, later coming to USask to study law following a career in the arts and culture sector.
“There is an underrepresentation of Indigenous people working in law, and I wanted to contribute to supporting Indigenous people and communities through achieving a legal degree,” she said.
On March 9, during Indigenous Achievement Week at USask, Robinson was honoured for her leadership at the annual Indigenous Student Achievement Awards Ceremony. The leadership award recognizes students who have demonstrated exemplary leadership on or off campus.
Robinson said she was “extremely honoured” to receive the award.
“A lot of the work I do is behind the scenes, and it felt really nice to know that people see that and felt I should be acknowledged for my hard work,” she said.
In addition to studying in the College of Law, Robinson works part-time for Sunchild Law and serves as a teaching assistant for the law course Kwayeskastasowin Setting Things Right (LAW 232.2). The course includes information about the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Indigenous-Crown relations, treaties, and more. The course requires skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.
Robinson also serves as the president of the Indigenous Law Students’ Association, a student-run organization that fosters a community of academic, professional, and social support among Indigenous students in the College of Law. As well, she volunteers for Pro Bono Students Canada, which provides free legal support to people and communities facing barriers to justice.
Outside of her legal work, Robinson serves as the chair of the Rainbow Youth Centre in Regina. The organization’s mission is to engage, educate, and inspire youth and families to lead healthy lives.
Robinson said she plans to celebrate her leadership award with dinner and a fun activity with friends and family next month. For her, the best part of studying at USask has been developing “some really great relationships with students, faculty, and staff.”
“I am grateful for those relationships and the support we give to each other and that I have received,” she said. “I have really enjoyed the opportunities to contribute to the community and the supports that are provided for Indigenous students.”
When asked about her advice for other students who may want to follow in her footsteps, Robinson said she recommends that students take advantage of opportunities to learn and grow, and that they access the student supports that are available on campus. She added that “you have to be prepared to sacrifice and work hard, but it will be worth it in the long run.”
“Faculty and staff want to see you succeed, so don’t be afraid to ask for help,” Robinson said. “Also, be confident. Be fearless and go for your dreams.”