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UBC Reports | Vol. 50 | No. 5 | May 6, 2004

Law Degree has Higher Purpose for Aboriginal Student

She wants to eradicate racism and oppression

By April Wilson-Lange

While growing up in Saskatchewan, Tamara Starblanket of the Ahtahkakoop First Nation experienced oppression and racism first-hand. That’s why she wanted to study law.

“I saw the unfair way indigenous people were treated by the legal system, the school system and by society,” says the 32-year-old. “I wanted to learn about the Canadian legal system to understand how it oppresses aboriginal people.”

In fact, it was her mother’s death that strengthened her resolve to study law.

“My mother’s death was ruled an accident even though there was evidence that she was murdered,” she explains. “The police only spent 12 hours on the investigation.”

Starblanket, who graduates with a Bachelor of Laws this month, is committed to using her degree to help her people eradicate racism and oppression.

“Now that I have the legal understanding of treaty land entitlements, I’ll be able to understand how the government undermines my people,” she says.

Starblanket would also like to use her degree to help bridge the misunderstanding between non-native and aboriginal people. “A lot of misunderstanding is based on ignorance,” she says.

Throughout her undergraduate and law studies, Starblanket says she tried to help her fellow students understand her point of view; “I have a knowledge and perspective that’s not taught in the classroom.”

While at UBC, Starblanket fulfilled her dream of attending a United Nations meeting. In 2001, she went to the World Conference Against Racism in South Africa and in 2002 she took part in the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York.

She credits most of her success to the love and encouragement she receives from her sons Tylen, 13, and Jonas, 10.

Starblanket is hoping to article at a Vancouver-based law firm that specializes in aboriginal law.

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Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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