The Massey Dialogues: Indigenous Perspectives on Policing in Canada

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The Massey Dialogues: Indigenous Perspectives on Policing in Canada

Wednesday, September 30 at 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm EDT

This event will be broadcast online and is welcome to all – there is no login or registration required to tune in from the comfort of home. Click here to watch the livestream.


Indigenous people have been the target of policing for centuries.  The use of criminal law to undermine culture was a deliberate strategy and it created a culture of racist policing. It is a case of overpolicing against come members of the communities (more likely to be arrested and for more serious charges and overrepresented in detention) and underpolicing where victims get no help (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry) – how to change that? Principal Nathalie Des Rosiers hosts Junior Fellow James Bird, Senior Fellow The Hon. Harry LaForme, and Chief Stacey Laforme, from the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.


Click here to watch the livestream of this event. The Dialogues are open to the public – we invite everyone to join and take part in what will be a very informative online discussion. Participants are invited to submit questions to the speakers in real time via the youtube channel’s chat function. For information about the Massey Dialogues salon series, click here.



The Honourable Harry S. LaForme is an Anishinabe of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, Ontario. He was born and mostly raised on his reserve where some of his family continue to reside and remain active in First Nation’s government.

Judge LaForme graduated, Osgoode Hall Law School, 1977 and called to the Ontario Bar, 1979. He articled with Osler, Hoskin and Harcourt; joined the law firm as an associate, and shortly thereafter commenced private practice in Indigenous law focused on Constitutional and Charter issues. He has appeared before each level of Canadian Court, travelled extensively throughout Canada, and represented Canadian Indigenous interests in Geneva Switzerland, New Zealand, and the British Parliament.

Judge LaForme served as: Co-chair, Independent National Chiefs Task Force on Native Land Claims; Chief Commissioner, Indian Commission of Ontario; Chair, Royal Commission on Aboriginal Land Claims; and taught, “Rights of Indigenous Peoples”, Osgoode Hall Law School. In January 1994 he was appointed a judge of the Superior Court of Justice, Ontario – then, one of 3 Indigenous judges ever appointed to this level of trial court in Canada. In November 2004, he was appointed a judge of the Ontario Court of Appeal. He is the first Indigenous judge appointed to an appellate court in Canada’s history. He retired from the judiciary in October 2018. In December 2018 he commenced a position as Senior Counsel with Olthuis Kleer Townshend, LL.P.

Judge LaForme has been honoured with the gift of numerous Eagle Feathers including at his swearing in at the Ontario Court of Appeal, and by the National Indian Residential School Survivors Society. He was honoured with: the National Aboriginal Achievement Award in Law & Justice; a Talking stick carved by Git’san artist Chuck (Ya’Ya) Heit; a bursary in his name for Indigenous first year law students by the University of Windsor Faculty of Law; and honourary Doctor of Law degrees from York University; University of Windsor, University of Toronto, the Law Society of Upper Canada, and an honourary Doctorate of Education from Nipissing University.

Judge LaForme has published numerous articles on issues related to Indigenous law and justice. He speaks frequently on Indigenous issues, Indigenous law, constitutional law, and civil and human rights.


James Bird is a member of the Northwest Territories Métis Nation and affiliated with the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nations. He holds a Honours BA in Indigenous studies and Renaissance Culture and is currently working on his Masters of Architecture at the John H Daniels Faculty of Architecture at University of Toronto. In 2018, James was part of the team that presented at the Venice Architectural Biennale, with world renowned Indigenous Architect Douglas Cardinal and 18 other Indigenous architects.

James has received several academic awards – The Prideaux Award for Science and Architecture, University College Merit Award – Gordon Cressy Award – Dr. Lillian McGregor Indigenous Award for Excellence and recently became the latest recipient of the President’s Award for Outstanding Indigenous Student of the Year. James has also recently been awarded the SSHRC grant for research in linguistics and architecture in the Dene language.

James is also a Member of The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada’s Indigenous Task Force on Architecture. He is also one of the founding members of INDI – Incubator for Northern Design and Innovation. In 2015 he founded “ LUNCHBOX” a charity for Lunch programs for Elementary schools in remote ‘Flyin” northern communities. He was also a member of the Steering committee that published the U of T Truth and Reconciliation final report in 2017.


R. Stacey Laforme is the Chief of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation and an Honourary Senior Fellow at Massey College. Chief Laforme has participated in a number of committees and boards throughout his 14 years as a Councillor including Pan Am Secretariat, which he chaired and was instrumental in raising the profile of all First Nations as MCFN was recognized as the first ever, Host First Nation of the Pan/Parapan Am Games and the Truth and Reconciliation Committee here at Massey College. Chief Laforme is committed to increasing involvement and communication between council and both on and off reserve band members. His dedication to the land, history, language and culture of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation are helping guide his First Nation toward a prosperous future. He is also a noted poet and storyteller and one of his poems “Remember”, is engraved in the Veterans Memorial. His most recent book of poetry, Living in the Tall Grass: Poems of Reconciliation, was published in 2018 to critical acclaim.