Independent Investigator’s Biography
Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond was appointed on June 19, 2020, by Health Minister Adrian Dix to lead an investigation into Indigenous-specific racism in the British Columbia health care system.
A member of Saskatchewan’s Muskeg Lake Cree Nation, Turpel-Lafond served as a Saskatchewan Provincial Court judge for 20 years before moving to B.C. to become the province’s first-ever Representative for Children and Youth, serving in that capacity as an independent officer of the B.C. Legislature from 2006 to 2016.
Now a tenured full Professor of Law at the University of British Columbia’s Peter Allard Hall Law School, Turpel-Lafond is also the Director of UBC’s Indian Residential School Centre For History and Dialogue. In addition, Turpel-Lafond serves as a senior associate counsel at the legal firm Woodward and Company, appearing at all levels of court on cases relating to land claims, Indigenous and human rights matters, and public law litigation. She is a member of the Indigenous Bar as well as the Law Societies of B.C, Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan.
Turpel-Lafond holds a Doctorate in Law from Harvard Law School (S.J.D.), a master’s in international law from Cambridge University (Gonville and Caius College), a J.D. law degree from York University’s Osgoode Hall, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Carleton University. She also holds a certificate in the international and comparative law of human rights from the University of Strasbourg and is the recipient of honourary degrees from nine Canadian universities and schools of law.