Indigenous student is one of the youngest panel speakers to be featured at prestigious conference

Rachel Hay is a student at Queen’s Law and a resident of Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory

Indigenous student is one of the youngest panel speakers to be featured at prestigious conference
Rachel Hay

An Indigenous student from the Faculty of Law at Queen's University has been invited to be a featured panel speaker at a conference of the Law and Society Association, one of the youngest people to receive such an invitation.

Rachel Hay, second-year student at Queen’s Law and resident of Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, will be presenting a research paper she accomplished for her Law & Injustice class under Professor Ashwini Vasanthakumar, stated a news release from Queen’s Law.

Hay’s paper cites common law and a liberal theory of justice, as well as historical evidence of the country’s injustices, to argue that Canada has the obligation to “acknowledge Indigenous sovereignty as an inherent right belonging to First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities.” 

The paper also asserts that the historical and institutional injustices perpetrated by Canada and Britain were “strategically and systemically” adopted and amount to “a form of genocide.” 

Twenty-eight-year-old Hay stated that, using these legal and historical bases, she is attempting to “put the Canadian government into a corner and force it to do the right thing.”

Raised by parents who are both activists, Hay is committed to advocating First Nations rights, as well as law and social justice. Despite initial misgivings when she was applying to be considered as one of the association’s junior panel speakers, she still pushed through. Her initiative was soon amply rewarded, and she was “surprised and delighted” by the acceptance of her paper.

Ann Deer, the law school’s Indigenous recruitment and support coordinator, said that the rare invitation has marked Hay as “a student to watch.”

The 2020 annual meeting of the Law and Society Association will be held from May 28 to 31 in Denver, Colorado.

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