Nearly 150 years after their ancestors Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont fought against Canada’s first federal government, two students graduating from the Peter A. Allard School of Law this week are carrying on their families’ tradition of advancing Indigenous rights.
Carly Teillet, 33, and Mark Stevens, 34, met by chance on their first day at the UBC law school during a class icebreaking exercise. As they spoke, Teillet revealed she is the great, great grandniece of Louis Riel while Stevens explained he is a descendent of Gabriel Dumont. Riel and Dumont fought and worked together for the preservation of Métis rights and culture in what is now commonly known as the 1885 Rebellion at Batoche, Saskatchewan.
The law students’ shared history came as a surprise.
“It was wonderful to not feel alone, we were on the same path – both of our families fought for Métis people to have a say” said Teillet.
“The idea of resistance informs how I think about my place in law,” noted Stevens. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to have a voice.”
Teillet is the inaugural articling student at the Indigenous Community Legal Clinic in the Downtown Eastside, while Stevens is articling at Ratcliff and Company, a North Vancouver law firm that specializes in legal issues around Indigenous rights.
They both credit their semester at the UBC Indigenous Community Legal Clinic for channeling their legal interests into areas where they can help their communities and advance the legacy of their ancestors.
“The Clinic was our first opportunity to be legal advocates and to use the knowledge to give back to the community,” said Stevens.
“Becoming lawyers we are fulfilling a traditional role,” said Teillet. “Métis people have acted as translators, negotiators, well armed fighters and strategists. Our families have always stood between our community and things we thought are unjust. I hope I am moving that story forward.”
Teillet and Stevens will cross the stage May 27 at the annual First Nations Longhouse graduation ceremony at UBC at 11 a.m.
UBC Public Affairs