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Karen Drake - Bora Laskin Faculty of Law at Lakehead University. Thunder Bay, ON, CA

Karen Drake Karen Drake

Assistant Professor | Bora Laskin Faculty of Law at Lakehead University

Thunder Bay, ON, CANADA

Karen Drake's teaching and research interests include Canadian law as it affects Indigenous peoples, Anishinaabe law, and Métis law.






KAREN DRAKE LAW - 3 Karen Drake - The Law and Politics of Métis Title (INDG Speakers Series) Wunusweh Lecture in Aboriginal Law 2016




Karen Drake is a citizen of the Métis Nation of Ontario. Her research interests include the intersection between liberalism and Aboriginal rights, the duty to consult and accommodate Aboriginal peoples in the context of resource extraction, Métis legal issues, and the relationship between law and ethics when conducting research with human participants. She teaches Aboriginal Legal Issues, Indigenous Legal Traditions, Property Law, and Legal Philosophy.

Prof. Drake is a Commissioner with the Ontario Human Rights Commission, a Commissioner with the Commission on Métis Rights and Self-Government,a member of the Board of Directors of the Indigenous Bar Association, and a member of the Thunder Bay Métis Council. She serves as Vice-Chair of Lakehead University’s Research Ethics Board, and as an alternate member of the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre’s Research Ethics Board. She is Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Lakehead Law Journal and was previously Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Indigenous Law Journal.

Prior to joining Lakehead University in July 2013, Prof. Drake practised with Erickson & Partners, focusing on Aboriginal legal issues, human rights, and labour and employment law. Prior to that, she articled with Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP. She completed a clerkship with the Ontario Court of Appeal, where she clerked for Justice Stephen Borins, Justice Susan Lang, Justice Harry LaForme, and Justice Gloria Epstein. She also served as a judicial law clerk to Justice Leonard Mandamin of the Federal Court.

Industry Expertise (4)


Public Policy


Legal Services

Areas of Expertise (8)

Canadian Law and Indigenous Peoples

Anishinaabe Law

Métis law

Aboriginal Legal Issues

Indigenous Legal Traditions

Property Law

Legal Philosophy

Indigenous Peoples and Canadian Law

Education (4)

University of Toronto: Master of Laws

University of Toronto: Juris Doctor

Queen's University: Master of Arts (Philosophy)

Lakehead University: Honours, Bachelor of Arts

Affiliations (10)

  • Ontario Human Rights Commission : Commissioner
  • Commission on Métis Rights and Self-Government : Commissioner
  • Indigenous Bar Association : Member-at-Large of the Board of Directors
  • Thunder Bay Métis Council : Member at Large
  • Lakehead University's Research Ethics Board : Vice-Chair and Member Knowledgeable in Law
  • Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre’s Research Ethics Board : Alternate Member Knowledgeable in Law
  • Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Mining & Exploration at Lakehead University : Researcher
  • National Observatory on Language Rights within the Public Law Research Centre at the Université de Montréal : Special Correspondent
  • Law Society of Upper Canada : Barrister and Solicitor
  • Thunder Bay Law Association : Member

Media Appearances (5)

Aboriginal Advocates: How Karen Drake Is Educating The Next Generation Of Law Professionals



As an Associate Professor of Law at Lakehead University, Karen Drake says she’s currently living out the highlight of her career. Over the years, she has practiced law in a variety of settings. However, Karen’s cultural identity has always been a driving force behind her success. As a Métis woman, she has been actively involved with the Aboriginal community for years. We had the opportunity to connect with Karen to learn more about her career journey and how her culture has positively impacted her work...

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Truth and Reconciliation Makeover: Law Schools Ponder How to Teach Aboriginal Law

Law Times  


Interviewed about how best to fulfill the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action #28.

Aboriginal lawyers hopeful about the future of indigenous law in Canada

CBC The Current  


Today, we're asking whether there is in fact cause for optimism. And we convened three aboriginal lawyers, who are themselves at the forefront of pushing for change...

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Providing High-Quality Service to Indigenous Clients

LawPro Magazine  


Learning that a client is an aboriginal person is just a basic first step. There are dozens of distinct Indigenous cultures in Canada, and within cultures, individuals have many different ways of life. A downtown-Toronto resident of Inuit heritage may have very little in common with a First Nations person who identifies as Haudenosaunee and lives on-reserve, or with a woman with one Cree parent who lives off-reserve and farms land outside Sioux Lookout. Understanding a client as an individual and not just as an Indigenous person requires avoiding what Karen Drake, assistant Professor in the Faculty of Law at Lakehead University calls “pan-aboriginalism”: the tendency to assume that Indigenous cultures are sufficiently alike that knowledge of one culture can readily be applied to another culture...

Law schools: Aboriginal law crucial  


The panel consisted of Karen Drake, a Métis law professor at Lakehead University, Naiomi Metallic, a member of the Dalhousie board of governors and Halifax lawyer specializing in aboriginal law, and Sherry Pictou, a Mi’kmaq activist and PhD student at Dal...

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Event Appearances (5)

Aboriginal Rights

(Presentation for the Horizontal Aboriginal Relations Training (HART) Program hosted by Ontario’s Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing and Ministry of Transportation  Thunder Bay, ON.


Why Do Aboriginal Rights Exist?

Presentation for The Speakers' School, Waverly Library  Thunder Bay, ON.


Protecting Confidentiality: To the Limits of the Law and Beyond?

Presentation to the Canadian Association of Research Administrators  Webinar


How Treaties Impact Our Community

Panelist, Kenora District Municipal Association’s 2015 Annual General Meeting  Ignace, ON.


Should Aboriginal Peoples have Special Legal Rights?

Lecture for the In Conversation Lecture Series at Waverly Library  Thunder Bay, ON.


Research Grants (2)

Community and College Social Innovation Fund College

SSHRC - Partnership Development Grants $112,936

2016 - 2018 “Negahneewin leading the way: supporting community development through Indigenous women's leadership” Co-investigator

Connection Grant

SSHRC $13,966

2016 To host a workshop entitled “Redefining Relationships: Indigenous Peoples and Canada” in conjunction with the Indigenous Bar Association’s 2016 annual conference Co-investigator

Articles (5)

Finding a Path to Reconciliation: Mandatory Indigenous Law, Anishinaabe Pedagogy, and Academic Freedom

Canadian Bar Review


‘The lands...belonged to them, once by the Indian title, twice for having defended them..., and thrice for having built and lived on them’: The law and Politics of Métis Title

Osgoode Hall Law Journal


Researcher-Participant Privilege, Confidentiality, and the Jailhouse Blues

McGill Journal of Law and Health


The Trials and Tribulations of Ontario’s Mining Act: The Duty to Consult and Anishinaabek Law

McGill International Journal of Sustainable Development Law and Policy


R. v. Hirsekorn: Are Métis Rights a Constitutional Myth?

Canadian Bar Review