Mak­ing his­tory

Jenna Broom­field first Inuk ad­mit­ted to Al­berta Bar

The Aurora (Labrador City) - - Saltwire Wheels - BY DANETTE DOO­LEY SPE­CIAL TO THE LABRADORIAN

Jenna Broom­field of North West River made his­tory re­cently when she be­came the first Inuk ad­mit­ted to the Al­berta Bar in full tra­di­tional re­galia.

Broom­field grad­u­ated from the Univer­sity of Al­berta Law School in 2017 and, after com­plet­ing her ar­ti­cling, was called to the bar on Aug. 3, 2018.

Un­like some prov­inces, Broom­field said, in Al­berta such cer­e­monies are done on an in­di­vid­ual ba­sis.

“It was won­der­ful and spe­cial be­cause it al­lows each per­son be­com­ing a lawyer to have their own cer­e­mony with their own fam­ily and friends... it al­lows for some per­son­al­ized com­men­tary, for the new lawyer to en­ter into the court­room in a very pos­i­tive way and be able to say thank-you to their fam­i­lies,” Broom­field said.

Although the Al­berta Law So­ci­ety re­quires new lawyers to wear black robes for the bar call, Broom­field said, there have been Indige­nous peo­ple in the past, from dif­fer­ent prov­inces, who re­quested that they be al­lowed to wear tra­di­tional dress.

“Some of them had a very dif­fi­cult time with the law so­ci­ety and get­ting a re­sponse that was pos­i­tive,” she said. That wasn’t her ex­pe­ri­ence.

“There was no prob­lem, what­so­ever,” Broom­field said. “I spoke to Jus­tice Bev Browne. I told her that I’d re­ally love to wear tra­di­tional cloth­ing. With­out a se­cond’s hes­i­ta­tion, she said, ‘Ab­so­lutely. I think that’s a great idea.’”

The Al­berta Law So­ci­ety was also sup­port­ive, Broom­field said.

Many of those who at­tended the cer­e­mony also wore tra­di­tional cloth­ing, re­gard­less of what com­mu­nity they came from, she said.

The cer­e­mony be­gan with a Kud­lik/ Qulliq light­ing cer­e­mony. There was also throat singing by Broom­field and el­der Mini Auodla-Free­man.

“It was beau­ti­ful to be able to share that mo­ment with an el­der in the com­mu­nity,” Broom­field said.

Grow­ing up in North West River, she said, she has been in­ter­ested in con­tribut­ing to her com­mu­nity from an early age. Jenna Broom­field pic­tured when she was called to the Al­berta Bar ear­lier this year dressed in full tra­di­tional re­galia.

“It was never that I wanted to be­come a lawyer, nec­es­sar­ily, as a youth but I did know that I had an in­ter­est in un­der­stand­ing the law,” she said. “Ac­ces­si­bil­ity was al­ways re­ally im­por­tant to me. The law, some­times is writ­ten like it’s in a whole other lan­guage and cer­tainly a whole other lan­guage if you speak Inuk­ti­tut.”

After earn­ing a de­gree in Na­tive Stud­ies and a Cer­tifi­cate in Abo­rig­i­nal Gov­er­nance, Broom­field con­tin­ued to look at her op­tions, ca­reer-wise.

“Law was some­thing that I felt I could learn and I wanted to learn to be able to help com­mu­ni­cate it to our fam­i­lies and our com­mu­nity mem­bers, when they needed it,” she said.

Shar­ing other peo­ple’s suc­cesses Broom­field said it’s im­por­tant to cel­e­brate all suc­cesses within the com­mu­nity.

“We need to take time out to share ac­co­lades of com­mu­nity mem­bers who are do­ing a great job in their com­mu­nity re­gard­less of what that might look like,” she said. “Some­times, peo­ple are go­ing out hunt­ing for oth­ers, peo­ple are ed­u­cat­ing our youth, peo­ple are run­ning com­mu­nity pro­grams... it’s just as im­por­tant to have these peo­ple from the com­mu­nity up­lift one an­other,” she said.

Broom­field, who is prac­tic­ing crim­i­nal law and civil lit­i­ga­tion with Cooper Regel in Al­berta, is also the new­est mem­ber of the Nu­navut Bar.

While she said law school was ex­tremely dif­fi­cult, Broom­field en­cour­ages Indige­nous youth in­ter­ested in such a ca­reer to pur­sue their goals.

When asked about any other ad­vice she’d give those search­ing for a ca­reer path, Broom­field said jobs in the trades or other work within the com­mu­nity are also re­ward­ing.

“As long as they find some­thing that makes them feel ful­filled and that makes them feel happy and ex­cited in their daily life, I think they will be suc­cess­ful,” she said.

Broom­field said she’d like to thank those in her pro­fes­sion, es­pe­cially lawyers from Labrador, who have come be­fore her.

“They are the ones who blazed that trail for me and cer­tainly made things eas­ier,” she said.


From left, Jenna Broom­field’s part­ner Leo Orellana, Jenna Broom­field and her par­ents Michael Broom­field and Lisa Miche­lin.


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