Big dreams for a Kanesatake Law School graduate

For the past eight years, Kanehsata’kehró:non Tewateronhiakhwa Nelson has focused on her studies. Now she is weeks away from graduating from law school and is excited to be on the cusp of a new journey.

“I’m so excited to be done! Frankly! It was a hell of a ride, I will say that. Law school was tough in its own way. From the start, I knew it was going to be very difficult for me,” said Nelson, who recently turned 25.

“Right now, I’m really excited to be done with writing articles, doing readings, reviews and courses.”

The law student said that after graduating from high school, she attended Kiuna Institution, a First Nations college near Odanak, where she graduated from the First Nations social science program. Nations.

She said she chose this specific program because she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do yet and wanted to keep her options open.

After college, the young woman applied and was admitted to the criminology program at Carleton University in Ottawa.

“So I completed my bachelor’s degree in criminology and criminal justice with a concentration in law,” Nelson said.

“During my second year of law school, I really started to focus on the area of ​​law that really interested me, and that’s also when I started to really think about becoming a lawyer. .

While at Carleton, Nelson said she learned a lot about missing and murdered Indigenous women and the overrepresentation of Indigenous peoples in the Canadian criminal justice system.

She said she also included much of her experience as a Haudenosaunee woman in her research papers and works.

“For example, I wrote a directed research project on Indigenous food sovereignty and the preservation of traditional Haudenosaunee food systems,” she said.

“I’ve also written about cannabis law, insurance on First Nations reserves, beading and the law – I even beaded a hat for my niece!”

The law student said it was during this time that she decided she wanted to be a criminal defense attorney for Indigenous people.

She graduated from Carleton in 2019, applied to law school and was accepted to the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law.

“After the first two days of orientation, I was already overwhelmed and didn’t expect this,” Nelson said with a laugh.

Law school was incredibly difficult for the young woman, and it was through her dogged determination that she was able to get to where she is today.

She also credits the overwhelming support she has received since starting this major undertaking.

Nelson said Danielle Lussier-Meek, the former Indigenous relations counselor and advocate for Indigenous learners at the university, has been immensely supportive of her over the past three years.

“She really helped me with admin stuff and community support and helped keep us all connected,” she said.

Lussier-Meek, who is of mixed race, actually called Nelson to let him know she had been accepted into the law program.

“The amount of support I’ve received since day one has been overwhelming, and it’s been so amazing. Even the times I sat and cried while writing an article, people pushed me to continue,” the young woman said.

“My community on social networks too. It was stimulating for me. My parents (Jeff Nelson and Kelly Tolley) are, of course, my biggest supporters.

Nelson won’t take her bar exam because she decided she didn’t want to pursue a career in law and said it was the hardest decision she’s ever made.

She now wants to start her own home organizing business and feels empowered by her education.

“I’m the type of person who really feels like if I have a decluttered space, then I’ll have a decluttered mind. And I’m very organized. I feel like that stems from my experience at the faculty of Law.

“I’m looking to kick-start my portfolio now as I embark on this new adventure. After that I’ll try to figure out the logistics of how this business can unfold,” Nelson said.


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Nancy I. Romero