Tina Dion

Practice Point


Tina Dion is a sole practitioner in the areas of Aboriginal, environmental and administrative law, and civil litigation. She started as an Article Student and practitioner with the criminal law boutique firm, Orris Burns, then practised civil litigation with the First Nations practice group at Blake, Cassels and Graydon. She then took up the challenge as in-house counsel and Director of Legal Services for the Tsawwassen First Nation to assist them with transitioning from anIndian Act style of government to a full self-government model. She is most proud of assisting the Tsawwassen Government with merging into the Provincial Court system and establishing its Judicial Council. She has taught the First Nations Self-Government course as an adjunct professor at the UBC Facultyof Law since 2002.

How and why did you get involved with CLEBC?

My first volunteerism for CLEBC was in 2002, when I was asked to update the PLTC criminal materials adding First Nation and Aboriginal content. It was a great experience for me as a junior lawyer, and one that has led me to do much more volunteering with CLEBC.

What are you are currently working on (or have most recently worked on) with CLEBC?

Currently, I am a contributing writer to the CLEBC publication, BC Administrative Law Practice Manual adding First Nation and Aboriginal content, a project I am so happy to be able to contribute to. I will also be a course presenter at the June 2014 CLEBC conference, First Nations Fiscal & Wealth Management.

What’s the most valuable piece of advice you have received?

Pre-law degree: Don’t live on ifs.
Post-law degree: Worry about what you can control and don’t worry about what you can’t.

What advice would you give newcomers who are interested in working in the legal profession?

The profession of law is multi-faceted—take time to figure out what you want to do in it; have the courage to change.

What are some of your favourite legal resources? (blogs, websites, etc.)

My favourite text is the Annotated Indian Act and Aboriginal Constitutional Provisions, by Shin Imai. I also really like Administrative Law: Cases, Text and Materials, Mullan, et al.

What has been the most rewarding part of your career?

I was fortunate to have had volunteered under and alongside the late (retired) Judge Alfred Scow (Canada’s first Aboriginal law graduate, lawyer and judge). Alfred was an incredible man who never set out to be a role model, and never sought accolades; those naturally followed. His humble approach to his vast accomplishments is a reminder that while we don’t know where we may end up with our law degree and in our careers, we are just one person in this world and each day we add to whatever our legacy will be, and in doing so, humility should be paramount.

Other than law, what are you passionate about?

For those close to me, they would say it is my beloved eight-year old dog, Weenu, who in 2010 was befallen by a serious spinal injury. However, with much focused work and determination on his part, he is happier than ever to be able to run again! I am passionate about history (especially Aboriginal-Canadian relations), following politics and reading (mostly non-fiction). I also very much enjoy watching sports highlights, and I am also a keen lover of weekend shopping for anything vintage!

Anything you’d like to shamelessly promote? (favourite charity, social cause, etc.).

Yes! The CBABC Aboriginal Lawyers Forum which was established in 2011, with a mandate to facilitate social networking, mentoring, professional development, and the celebration of Aboriginal culture. The Forum is open to law students, law graduates, and lawyers who are primarily but not exclusively Aboriginal peoples. The Forum hosts a number of events each year intended to bring lawyers of all practices together, for support, networking, and mentorship. ALF also publishes a quarterly newsletter, the Forum Drum.