Pam Palmater, Mi’kmaw lawyer and chair of Indigenous governance at the former Ryerson University, has been a true voice of inspiration in 2021. She has stepped up time and time again to advocate for Indigenous rights and has been doing the difficult work of drawing attention to missing and murdered Indigenous women, the need for reconciliation and the concrete steps governments must take to make change, even when politicians haven’t been listening.
By Cindy Blackstock | Executive director, FNCFCS
If I’m ever in trouble, and I often am, I would want Pam Palmater by my side. Her sharp intellect, steadfast ethics and caring heart place her at the centre of many colonial storms. From land rights to child rights, Pam draws on the multi-generational strength handed down to her from her ancestors to stand in the winds of injustice that continue to pile up on the hopes and dreams of First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples and weigh the country down.
Colonial governments intentionally dehumanize Indigenous peoples and weave false historical narratives to hide egregious human and land rights violations. Recently this all came into stark relief when Canadians learned that thousands of Indigenous children died in government-run residential schools and were buried in unmarked graves.
A natural communicator, Pam knows public awareness is the antidote to government abuses and excuses for ongoing injustices like not getting clean drinking water to First Nations, fighting residential school survivors in court and fumbling the implementation of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls inquiry.
A prolific author and media educator, Pam also hosts her Warrior Life podcast showcasing the rich diversity of First Nations, Métis and Inuit and thought-provoking conversations on decolonization. And then there is my favourite — her fabulous Warrior Kids podcast showing how young people are making meaningful reconciliation a reality. Some call her an activist. I call her a truth and justice hero.
See our full list of Toronto’s most inspiring women of 2021 here.