Delia Opekokew

Delia Opekokew, B.A., LL.B., LL.D. is a highly decorated senior counsel with honours including:

  • 2019 Law Society of Ontario, presentation of a degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa (LLD).
  • 2017 Osgoode Hall Law School Alumni Gold Key for Achievement received on May 17, 2017 at Convocation Hall in Osgoode Hall, Toronto, Ontario.
  • First woman elected to the Executive of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (1967)
  • First Indigenous woman lawyer in Ontario (1979).
  • First Indigenous woman lawyer in Saskatchewan (1983).
  • First woman candidate for the position of National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations (1994).
  • Granted “Indigenous Peoples’ Counsel” (“IPC”) Status by the national Indigenous Bar Association, awarded each year to one or more indigenous lawyers in recognition of outstanding achievements in the practice of law. (2004).
  • Lifetime Achievement Award for “Law and Justice” in the annual nationally televised National Aboriginal Achievement Awards ceremony (now Indspire Awards). (2009).
  • Women’s Law Association of Ontario, annual highest recognition in the form of the President’s Award (2012).
  • Law Society of Upper Canada, Law Society Medal (the Ontario Law Society’s highest award for recognition to the profession in the province) (2013).
  • Lifetime Achievement Award from the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations’ (FSIN) Saskatchewan First Nations’ Women’s Commission’s 2nd Annual Strength of our Women Awards (2016).


Ms. Opekokew was also legal counsel for the family of Dudley George, First Nations rights protestor shot and killed by police at Ipperwash Provincial Park, Ontario in 1995, leading to a major provincial public judicial inquiry, resulting in major reforms to police and government Aboriginal relations, the creation of the first-ever Ontario Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs, and the return of Ipperwash Provincial Park lands to its original Treaty owners. 

Ms. Opekokew was born on the Canoe Lake Indian Reserve in Canoe Lake, Saskatchewan.  She attended the Beauval and Lebret Indian Residential Schools for 11 years, the University of Winnipeg for her undergraduate studies where she received the University of Winnipeg Bursary for first year arts with distinction. She obtained her Bachelor of Law degree from Osgoode Hall Law School, at York University, Toronto, in 1977, and was called to the bar of the Law Society of Upper Canada (Ontario) in 1979, and the bar of the province of Saskatchewan in 1983.

Ms. Opekokew has published numerous books about Treaty rights, including, among others: “The First Nations:  Indians in the Community of Man,” (Saskatoon, Canada:  Federation of Saskatchewan Indians, 1982); “The First Nations:  Indian Government and the Canadian Confederation”, (Saskatoon, Canada:  Federation of Saskatchewan Indians, 1980), as cited by the Government of Canada; and more recently, “Canadian Foundations and Trends in Aboriginal Philanthropy, Presentation to the Indigenous Circle of Elders (NICE), Portage La Prairie, June 23, 2014, updated in 2016. Ms. Opekokew also submitted reports to the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples regarding specific Treaty rights.