At a special reception last night in Ottawa, Gowling WLG was pleased to announce the launch of the Brian A. Crane/Gowling WLG Indigenous Law Student Scholarship. The bursary recognizes longtime firm partner and influential Indigenous law practitioner Brian A. Crane, QC.
Created in partnership with the Wiyasiwewin Mikiwahp Native Law Centre at the University of Saskatchewan, the scholarship will support Indigenous students as they pursue a career in law. The $5,000 scholarship will be awarded annually to an Indigenous student enrolled in the Native Law Centre Summer Program (formerly known as the Program of Legal Studies for Native People).
The new scholarship simultaneously recognizes the impactful and longstanding contributions of Gowling WLG Ottawa partner Brian Crane both to the firm and the field of Indigenous law. Identified by Chambers Global as a Senior Statesman in the field of Aboriginal law, Crane has been and continues to be a mentor and elder to many of the firm's professionals.
Appointed Queen's Counsel in 1977, Crane has extensive experience before the Supreme Court of Canada, the Federal Court and the Ontario Courts, working throughout Canada in the negotiation of native land claims and Aboriginal rights, such as Beckman v. Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation,  and Native Women's Association of Canada v. Canada, . He is a frequent speaker on Indigenous and treaty rights and has co-authored multiple publications, including LexisNexis' First Nations Governance Law (2nd Edition).
"This scholarship is an expression of gratitude that Mr. Crane richly deserves," says Jaimie Lickers, leader of the firm's Indigenous Law Group. "As one of the very first lawyers to practise Indigenous law in Canada, he has represented our First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples on a long and impressive list of landmark agreements, development projects and Supreme Court cases. Mr. Crane is truly a one-of-a-kind lawyer who has influenced generations of colleagues - myself included."
The Native Law Centre Summer Program is a two-month intensive curriculum that helps prepare Indigenous students for the rigours of law school. Often, many of these students must relocate to Saskatoon for two and a half months to complete the program - without being able to earn money during that period.
"The scholarship will provide necessary funding to support Indigenous law students that often face many barriers to achieve success in law school," says Larry Chartrand, academic director of the Native Law Centre. "This scholarship will help ensure that financial need will not be one of those barriers."
Maxime Faille, former leader of the firm's Indigenous Law Group, adds: "This scholarship serves two worthy purposes - to support future Indigenous lawyers as they embark on their journey toward joining the ranks of our profession, and honouring our partner, friend, sage and mentor, Brian Crane. These are, of course, tightly interwoven: Brian has for many decades quietly helped shape Aboriginal law and, in so doing, helped open the doors for Indigenous youth to take control of their own destinies and that of their communities. The same can be said of the Native Law Centre."
Gowling WLG is proud to count several of its own professionals among the alumni of the Native Law Centre Summer Program. These include partner Paul Seaman and associates Kennedy Bear Robe, Kelly Campagnola and Jessica George.
Since the 1950s, Gowling WLG has been at the forefront of Indigenous law in Canada. The firm has worked alongside Canada's First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples in landmark self-government agreements, resource development projects and Supreme Court cases. Gowling WLG is one of the only full-service law firms in Canada that acts for Indigenous clients as well as private industry, project proponents and all levels of government.