For the 2013 Vancouver Human Rights Lecture, Ms Turpel-Lafond will cover a range of topics including a description of living conditions and statistics on Aboriginal children in BC and how we might go about addressing these unacceptable statistics. She will discuss recent work of the Representative's Office - reports on Audit of Plans of Care and the government's role in Aboriginal services over the past ten or so years. She will also look at education past and present and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as related to the rights described in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond is B.C.’s first Representative for Children and Youth.
The Representative doesn’t work for government. Rather, she is an Independent Officer of the Legislature who supports children, youth and families who need help in dealing with the child welfare system. She also provides oversight to the Ministry of Children and Family Development and advocates for improvements to the child welfare system.
Ms Turpel-Lafond is a judge on leave from the Saskatchewan Provincial Court. She worked as a criminal law judge in youth and adult courts, with an emphasis on developing partnerships to better serve the needs of young people in the justice system, particularly sexually exploited children and youth, as well as children and youth with disabilities, such as those who suffer from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.
She holds a doctorate of law from Harvard Law School and a master's degree in international law from Cambridge University.
In 2007, the Indigenous Bar Association awarded her the distinction of ‘Indigenous Peoples’ Counsel’. As well, Time Magazine has twice bestowed honours upon Ms Turpel-Lafond, naming her one of the ‘100 Global Leaders of Tomorrow’ in 1994, and one of the ‘Top 20 Canadian Leaders for the 21st Century’ in 1999.
Ms. Turpel-Lafond is a member of the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation and active in her First Nations community. Mary Ellen and husband George and their four children reside in Victoria, B.C.