UBC Reports | Vol. 50 | No. 5 | May
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,”
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.