An indigenous woman from North Battleford is one of many lawyers recognized for their work in law. Eleanore Sunchild of Sunchild Law has been designated a Queen’s Counsel (Q.C.) by the province of Saskatchewan.
“I was surprised, and I was honoured at the same time,” says Sunchild.
Sunchild comes from Thunderchild First Nation and has been practicing indigenous law for 19 years. Her practice consists of a broad range of legal practices.
The status of Q.C. is usually obtained through a lawyer doing public service. Those selected must live in Saskatchewan and must have practiced law for at least 10 years in the superior courts of any province or territory of Canada.
For the past ten years she’s focused on Indian residential school claims and in the past year she’s helped the family of Colten Boushie.
Recently, she’s helped the Battleford Industrial School cemetery become recognized as a heritage site to protect the graves of indigenous children who attended the school.
In 2016 she served as co-lead for the art exhibit “Walking With Our Sisters” focusing on the subject of missing and murdered indigenous women.
She continues to be an advocate for indigenous people in Canada’s justice system.
“I’ll keep speaking out for indigenous people, and I’ll keep seeking justice for people like Colten Boushie who the justice system had failed. It will provide me with more a platform to continue on with my advocacy.”
Sunchild is passionate about her practice. Throughout her practice she’s seen how the legal system as a whole affects indigenous people and seeks to make it fairer through her advocacy.
“There’s still a lot of racism, there’s still a lot of discrimination within our society as a whole, especially within this province.”
She herself is a survivor of the sixties scoop. She was raised in Mervin, Sask. before returning to her community with her real family.
Sunchild views this return to her community as a regaining of her culture. She can understand and speak some Cree and has compared her own story with her clients who attended residential schools.
“I used to always think, why are our people so sad? Why are our people in such the state that they are? And it wasn’t until I heard those stories of Indian residential school survivors and listened to them tell me for the first time their stories of sexual abuse that I got it.”
Sunchild is optimistic about her community and is inspired by the resilience her clients who survived residential school and the sixties scoop.
Saskatchewan Justice Minister and Attorney General Don Morgan also recognizes the work she’s done to improve her community.
“These individuals have made significant contributions to the legal profession, the justice system and their communities. I’m pleased to recognize their hard work and dedication to our province,” says Morgan.