Delia Opekokew, a member of the Canoe Lake First Nation, attended the Beauval Indian Residential School for her elementary grades, and the Qu’Appelle Indian Residential School at Lebret for high school. After obtaining a Bachelor of Laws degree from Osgoode Hall Law School at York University in 1977, she was called to the Bar of the Province of Ontario in 1979 and to the Bar of the Province of Saskatchewan in 1983. She was the first Indigenous to be admitted to those law societies. Opekokew practiced family, criminal and First Nations law in Toronto as a partner in the firm of Zlotkin & Opekokew from 1979 to 1980, and as an associate in the firm of Blaney, McMurty, and Stapells from 1985 to 1990. She was counsel to the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations from 1980 to 1985. Between 1990 and 1998 Opekokew practiced alone, with clients from the Maritimes to Alberta, specializing in Indian treaty rights and Indigenous law. During this time she was appointed as one of three commissioners to inquire into the shooting death of Leo Lachance by white supremacist Nerland. Her proudest achievement was the successful resolution of the Canoe Lake Cree Nation land claim, regarding the termination of social and economic rights in the lands given under Treaty 10 but occupied by the Primrose Lake Air Weapons Range. Opekokew was council in the wrongful death case of Anthony O’Brien “Dudley” George in Ontario, and is now partner in the law office of Opekokew, Johnstone-Clarke in Saskatoon.

Charlene Crevier