Darian Lonechild graduated from the Juris Doctor degree program in the USask College of Law in June 2023. (Photo: Submitted)

USask law graduate earns prestigious Royal Society of Canada award

Darian Lonechild, who graduated from the Juris Doctor degree program in the University of Saskatchewan’s (USask) College of Law earlier this year, received the Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella Prize from the Royal Society of Canada (RSC).

The award is presented to the graduate of each of Canada’s 24 law schools “most likely to positively influence equity and social injustice in Canada or globally upon graduation,” according to the RSC. 

“It means a great deal,” Lonechild said. “Social justice and equity are two things that I’m really determined to dedicate my work to, my entire life to.” 

Lonechild set herself apart even before coming to law school at USask. As a member of the Assembly of First Nations National Youth Council, Lonechild had the opportunity to be involved in policy debate and discussions on a national level. 

She has also been involved closer to home, contributing to policy decisions with the Saskatoon Police Department as part of a group established with the support of police chief Troy Cooper. Lonechild said she was excited to be able to contribute to organizations that were willing to listen. 

Lonechild now works for Maurice Law out of Calgary. As she puts it, working in the area of Aboriginal law was all she ever wanted to do. 

“From a young age, my parents stressed the importance that I grew up knowing about Treaty and what that means, the spirit and intent of it,” Lonechild said. “So, I think that Treaty relationship is important for a lot of people to know. Reflecting on that, it really pushed me to use my voice and dedicate my time to building bridges and advocating for treaty implementation.” 

Lonechild spoke positively of her experience at USask in the College of Law and its commitment to reconciliation. She also lauded her time learning from Dr. Jaime Lavallee (SJD), a law professor that Lonechild felt inspired by while taking her Aboriginal Law class. 

Even among recipients of this prestigious award, Lonechild had a rather unique experience as one of this year’s award winners because the namesake of her award was present for her graduation ceremony. 

Justice Rosalie Abella was a recipient of an honorary degree at the USask Spring Convocation in 2023 in recognition of her distinguished career as a Supreme Court Justice in Canada. 

Lonechild said having Abella attend the convocation was a humbling experience. 

“I felt so much pride sitting there and listening to her speak,” she said. “I remember (Abella) talking about her life and the sacrifices her family made, and I found that really inspirational. As a person whose family are survivors of residential schools and have faced other obstacles, that’s something that was important for me to hear … It’s important to recognize your family and your community when you’re honoured with awards.” 

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