Aboriginal Legal Services (formerly Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto) was established on February 21, 1990. ALS was formed following a need for a legal related program for Aboriginal people living in the Greater Toronto Area.

Mission Statement

To strengthen the capacity of the Aboriginal community and its citizens to deals with justice issues and provide Aboriginal controlled and culturally based justice alternatives.

Vision Statement

  • We seek a community which deals with justice issues in an assertive, constructive and respectful way.
  • A community which provides support and guidance to its citizens when they need to interact with the justice system.
  • A community involved in developing and implementing justice initiatives and alternatives which are culturally based and community controlled.
  • A community where our youth have the opportunities and abilities to deal with justice issues affecting them.
  • A community where its citizens have minimum exposure to the existing legal system and are less vulnerable to acts of aggression, of racism and ignorance of who we are.
  • A community which resolves its conflicts internally with minimal need for outside involvement.
  • A community which promotes a positive environment related to justice issues - an environment based on mutual understandings with non-aboriginal groups/services such as schools, police, and other enforcement agencies.
  • A community where its agencies work together to ensure justice and related services and issues are provided in holistic and integrated way.
  • A community where its citizens have the confidence and self-esteem to deal with issues in a constructive way.

Vision & Beliefs

Aboriginal individuals require equitable treatment in the justice system, access to the legal and related resources within the justice system, as well as understanding of the system and their options.

The support required includes advocacy in all areas of the law as well as alternatives which can break the cycles of recidivism and dependency which is all too prevalent.

These alternatives are more effective when they are community controlled and are based on the traditional cultural norms and values of the Aboriginal community.

It is necessary to re-introduce community controlled and culturally based justice alternatives by ensuring community involvement in the process and by integrating justice related services with complementary programs within the Aboriginal community.

ALS would like to thank our funders

The Department of Justice (Canada)

The Ministry of the Attorney General (Ontario)

The Ministry of Children and Youth Services (Ontario)

Legal Aid Ontario

Miziwe Biik Aboriginal Employment and Training

Individual Donors


Board of Directors

Jessie Stirling

JESSIE STIRLING – PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD

Elected to the Board: November 21, 2018

 Jessie Stirling is aKwakwaka’wakwwoman of the Wei WaiKumFirst Nation in Campbell River, BC. She received her JD/ Certificate in Aboriginal Legal Studies from the University of Toronto Faculty of Law in 2020. Prior to law school, Jessie graduated with distinction from the University of British Columbia with a BA in Political Science and worked on a human rights campaign confronting anti-homeless andanti-substance user stigma in BC at Pivot Legal Society in Vancouver’s DowntownEastside.During law school, Jessie was a member of the Asper Centre working group on Indigenous Child Welfare, an associate editor for the Indigenous Law Journal, and a volunteer at the 519 Legal Clinic, Justice for Children and Youth, and the family courts. In 2018, Jessie worked under Professor Kent Roach as a Gerald W. Schwartz Fellow researching and writing about the wrongful convictions of Indigenous and other racialized people in Canada.During her final year of law school, Jessie represented the Indigenous Law Students Association on the Faculty of Law’s TRC Implementation Committee, worked as the Coordinator of PBSC’s brand-new Indigenous Human Rights Program, and volunteered as a researcher with the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society.Jessie is currently articling at the Office of the Children’s Lawyer.

 

Paul-Emile McNab

PAUL-EMILE MCNAB  – VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD

Elected to the Board: December 1, 2020

Paul-Emile re-joined the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business on October 31st, 2016 and is the current Director of Business Development and Strategic Initiatives. Prior to that, he was active in the field of Research, Consulting and Business Development for fifteen years. In 2007, he completed his honours degree in History, Political Science and Canadian Studies at the University of Toronto. In 2010, he completed hisMasters in Environmental Studiesat York University with a focus on Indigenous knowledge and a Major Research Paper titled The Traditional Rights of Ways on the Walpole Island First Nation.He is a Métis scholar who has been published in numerous books,articlesand magazines. He has served as a Member of the Research Advisory Committee with Canadian Energy Research Institute, a Member of the Leadership Advisory Circle for the Indigenous Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship with the City of Toronto, the Chair of the National Advisory Committee with ORIGIN Inc. and the current Vice-President of the Board of Directors for Aboriginal Legal Services.He is of Métis descent with ancestors attached to Métis Scrip applications and currently resides in Toronto.

 

Basima Roshan

BASIMA ROSHAN  – TREASURER OF THE BOARD

Elected to the Board: December1, 2010

BasimaRoshan is a management consultant with a focus on Finance, Change Management, and Business Transformation. She has an extensive background in working with Fortune-500 companies to plan and manage cross-functional business operations and complex internal integration projects, increasing their effectiveness and profit.Basimaguides her clients through the changes in structure, processes, and people they need to meet business and market challenges.Outside of consulting, she teaches Financial Management for the Ontario Architects Association and Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC). She also serves as a member of the Audit Committee of YMCA GTA.Basimahas a Queen’s MBA, holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Finance), and is a Chartered PublicAccountant (CPA).

 

Branden Cave 

BRANDEN CAVE – SECRETARY OF THE BOARD

Elected to the Board: June 21, 2021

Branden is agay man and Settler from the Treaty Six and Treaty Sevenregionsin Alberta.He is currently a law student at the University of Toronto and expects to receive his JD in 2022. Prior to starting his legal studies, Branden received an MSc in Economics and Econometrics from the University of Nottingham in the UK and a BA in Economics from the University of Calgary.Branden has been involved in not-for-profit organizations for many years through the student movement, including serving as a vice president and president of the University of Calgary Students’ Union.In addition to studying law, Branden works as a governance consultant and specialist and is a Professional Registered Parliamentarian certified to advise on meeting procedure and general governance matters.Branden plans to practice as a governance lawyer and advise both for-profit and not-for-profit corporations on how to improve theirgovernance so that they can fulfill their mandates as effectively and efficiently as possible.

 

Genevieve Easton

GENEVIEVE EASTON – DIRECTOR

Elected to the Board: December 8, 2016

Genevieve is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA, CA). While she currently works inthe private sector, she spent six years earlier in her career working in the non-profit sector -atAfriKidsand Habitat for Humanity GTA -and she remains passionate about giving back to the community. Her current role is that of CFO at WZMH Partnership,an architecture firm. After spending her early childhood in Toronto, Genevieve moved with her parents to Turkey, and then to the UK, where she spent half of her life. She completed a Master of Arts in French and Russian before training to become an accountant. She moved back to Toronto in 2013 with her husband to rediscover her roots, and they now have two young children (and two cats). She joined the ALS Board as a shadow member in May 2016, and was elected as a full member, and as treasurer, in December 2016. In December 2020, she stood down from the role of treasurer to continue as a regular Board member. 

 

SINÉAD CHARBONNEAU – DIRECTOR

Elected to the Board: April 30, 2018

Sinéadis a guest onSongheesand Esquimalt Nation territories. Sheis an associate at OKT. Her focus is on promoting and protecting the rights of Indigenous children,youth,andfamilies.Hergoalistoworkalongside Indigenous communities to realize their visions for family and communitywell-being Sinéadis co-counsel to Chiefs of Ontario in theFirst Nations Child and Family Caring Society et al. v Canadacase. She works alongside Indigenous communities to build child welfare and family well-being programming, exercise jurisdiction, strengthen Indigenous laws, and defend and assert their rights in child welfare court.Her heart is in ceremonial responses to ending violence against women and she has volunteered in this area for 15 years.LESLIE ANNE ST. AMOUR-DIRECTORElected to the Board:November 21, 2018Leslie Anne St. Amour is of mixed Indigenous and settler ancestry and is a member of the Bonnechere Algonquin First Nation.She graduated from the University of Toronto Faculty of Law in 2020. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from McGill University in political science and Indigenous studies and was a 2016-2017OceanPathFellow at the University of St. Francis Xavier.Leslie Anne has worked as a Project Assistant for the Algonquins of Ontario Consultation Office, held various positions within the Student’s Society of McGill University and McGill’s Social Equity and Diversity Education Office, and worked as a research assistant for U of T Law’s Indigenous Initiatives Office. She has previously sat on the Advisory Council of the non-profit Young Women’s LeadershipNetwork which seeks to provide opportunities for diverse young women and non-binary folks to develop civic leadership skills. Leslie Anne works in the field of environmental and Aboriginal law.

 

HALEY COCHRANE - DIRECTOR

Elected to the Board: December 1, 2020

Haley is Algonquin and manages the Office of Indigenous Initiatives at Queen’s University in Kingston. She is an experienced policy, recruitment, and project management professional with a background in Indigenous services, capacity building, and administration. She has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Legal Studies from the University of Ontario Institute of Technology and is slated to graduate from Queen’s Master of Public Administration (MPA) program in 2021.

 

Jessica Kras

JESSICA KRAS - DIRECTOR

Elected to the Board: December 1, 2020

Jessica is an associate atLencznerSlaghtLLP and has a broad civil litigation practice encompassing commercial litigation and professional liability. She graduated from U of T law in 2018 and was called to the Ontario bar lastJune. While in law school, Jessica volunteered with Pro Bono Ontario, was involved in student government, and was the President of Out in Law, a student group at U of T dedicated to fostering a positive environment for LGBT students at the law school.

 

Amanda Carling

AMANDA CARLING – SHADOW DIRECTOR

Elected to the Board: December 2, 2010

Amanda Carling is a Métis lawyer who grew up in Winnipeg and earned her undergraduate degree in criminology at the University of Manitoba. She graduated from the University of Toronto, Faculty of Law in June 2012. As a law student, Amanda co-chaired the Aboriginal Law Students’ Association (ALSA) for two years, worked at Downtown Legal Services (DLS) in the criminal and family law divisions and started a yoga program.

In June 2013 Amanda completed her articles with Innocence Canada (formerly the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted (AIDWYC)). Following her call to the bar, Amanda launched Innocence Canada’s Legal Education Initiativein an effort toforward the prevention aspect of the organization’s mandate. As National Legal Education Counsel, Amanda organized continuing legal education seminars and conferences for lawyers, law students, taught police services, designed a wrongful convictions course for law schools, built and administered Innocence Canada’s website andthe Innocence Library, delivered guest lectures to undergrad and graduate students, trained law students to deliver public legal education and more.In 2014 Amanda was appointed by the Minister of Justice for the Province of Ontario toDebwewin, the committee charged with overseeing the implementation of recommendations made by retired Supreme Court of Canada Justice, the Honourable Frank Iacobucci, following his review of First Nations representation on the jury roll in Ontario.Amanda has served on the Board of Directors for Aboriginal Legal Services (formerly Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto (ALST)) since 2010. For several years she was the Board Secretary and the Board President.Amanda is currently the Manager, Indigenous Initiatives the University of Toronto, Faculty of Law. Amanda provides support to Indigenous law students, including counselling on career, academic, financial aid, and personal matters. Amanda also develops academic,experientialand cultural programming for all students –Indigenous and non-Indigenous -interested in Aboriginal law

 

ERIKA DAWSON – SHADOW DIRECTOR

Elected to the Board: April 27, 2020

Erika Dawsonis currently serving as a Shadow Director. Erikais a high performing Indigenous Relations specialist working within the energy sector in Ontario. Her approach to Indigenous engagement and consultation is based on building long-term relationships through transparency, trust, and respectful cultural understanding and inclusion. Her unique multidisciplinary knowledge and technical skills in environmental assessments, regulatory affairs and Indigenous worldviews has added value to proponents proven by the successful conclusion of projects with increased Indigenous participation throughout aprojectslifecycle. Erika is passionate about the inclusion of Indigenous Ecological Knowledge within environmental assessments and is an advocate for Indigenousprocurement outreach and supplier diversity policies to support economic growth and capacity building in communities. At this stage in her career, Erika is interested in developing joint venture partnerships with Indigenous-owned companies and communities in the energy sector. In her personal time, Erika is an avid cross-country skier and writes science fiction short stories