Melanie is a member of the Blood Tribe/Kainai which is one of four member First Nations in the great Blackfoot Confederacy. She is also the proud mother of one adult son, and both she and her son have devoted themselves to assisting and working with First Nations peoples and their own community. They both follow in the footsteps of other family members who set the example of giving back to their people. She is the daughter, granddaughter, and great-granddaughter of residential school survivors and her source of strength is found in her family members’ ability to persevere despite their experiences in these institutions.
Melanie is the first Blood Tribe/Kainai woman to receive her law degree, having decided at age 14 that she would be a lawyer to help her own people. She has done just that for her entire professional career – provided legal services to First Nations communities with the vast majority of that time being spent providing legal services to the Blood Tribe/Kainai. Melanie is very appreciative of the opportunity to assist her own government, community, and people.
Melanie’s practice is focussed solely on First Nations law, primarily in the areas of Aboriginal and Treaty rights, Specific Claims, First Nations governance, and Corporate and Commercial law. She has assisted her clients by providing advice on many complex matters, including the drafting of settlement and trust agreements, and legislation on issues of local concern. She has also assisted her clients in the successful negotiation of specific claims.
Teaching is also part of Melanie’s background as her father was a long-time educator on the Blood Reserve. She has taught courses on Aboriginal/Indigenous law at the University of Calgary – Faculty of Law and at Red Crow Community College on the Blood Reserve, as well as a course on First Nations Oil and Gas Law at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology.
One of the strongest attributes she possesses is the ability to connect with her clients. She readily understands their legal rights and the various legal issues they face. Melanie is able to provide legal services within a context that is very specific to her clients. Her practice is much more than just providing legal advice – it is about knowing her community and providing legal services in a comprehensive manner that takes into account the values and beliefs of her own people.
Prior to becoming a lawyer, Melanie worked in the addictions field and continues to support and advocate for the wellbeing of those who suffer from addictions. Melanie is an avid sports fan and loves watching baseball, hockey, football, and soccer. She enjoys spending time with her family, travelling, reading, and writing.