Once every two years, CLEBC honours extraordinary individuals for their contribution to the enhancement of learning in the BC legal community with the Leaders in Learning Award.
This year’s recipient, Ardith Walpetko We’dalx Walkem, KC, has demonstrated incredible commitment to mentorship, role modeling, and delivering learning opportunities to lawyers throughout her career, particularly regarding Indigenous laws and Truth and Reconciliation.
Ardith has contributed prolifically to CLEBC by lending her time and expertise to numerous programs, publishing papers, and even leading training sessions for CLEBC staff and Board members. Her first CLEBC project involved co-chairing the first Indigenous Legal Orders and the Common Law conference, which brought together leaders of Indigenous nations and judges from all levels of court – a first in British Columbia. With the support of LSBC and CLEBC, she produced the powerful short film “But I Was Wearing A Suit” which was presented at the Law Society of BC’s Truth and Reconciliation Symposium. In this film Indigenous lawyers tell stories exposing racism and bias in the legal profession. She also created a project called “Testify: Indigenous Laws and the Arts”, where artists and legal thinkers collaborated to create art that highlighted the absence of Indigenous law in the legal landscape.
Educating lawyers on Indigenous laws and experiences is instrumental for correcting biases inherent in the legal profession. Ardith has keenly identified educational opportunities, and acted on them. She is the author of Wrapping Our Ways Around Them: Aboriginal Communities and the CFCSA Guidebook published by the ShchEma-mee.tkt Project (Nlaka’pamux Nation Tribunal Council). She led the drafting of CLEBC’s Truth and Reconciliation Action Plan, continues to chair CLEBC’s Truth and Reconciliation Committee, and co-chairs CLEBC’s Indigenous Laws Conference. CLEBC staff members have also benefited from Ardith’s desire to educate – she has led training sessions for CLEBC staff and board members. Ardith’s initiatives have not gone without notice – they have been recognized by both legal and non-legal organizations across the country. Her reach extends far beyond the British Columbia legal profession.
Beyond her many contributions, CLEBC staff say that Ardith works tirelessly to produce excellent programs and services to the legal profession. She is patient and kind, and always says “yes” to working on projects that are important to her, all while running her law firm, “Cedar and Sage Law Corporation”. She is passionate about education and is never afraid to speak hard truths when they need to be heard. These traits contribute to her ability to provide outstanding and unique contributions to our legal community and mark her as a true leader in learning.
It is with great pleasure that CLEBC presents the 2019 Leaders in Learning Award to Ardith Walpetko We’dalx Walkem, KC.