Society news
2017 Distinguished Service Award: Bruce Wildsmith QC

Printer-friendly version

Bruce Wildsmith QC

The Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society is pleased to announce that Bruce H. Wildsmith QC of Barss Corner, Lunenburg County will receive the 2017 Distinguished Service Award.

Bruce is legal counsel with the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs and the Kwilmu’kw Maw-klusuquan Negotiation Office. His pursuit of Mi’kmaw access to natural resources and Treaty rights has resulted in clearer understanding of Aboriginal rights and their place in Canada.

The Society will present the award on Friday, November 17 at the annual Recognition Reception, taking place this year in the Sable Ballroom at the Halifax Marriott Harbourfront Hotel. See the event information to find out more, including details about 12 other honourees to be recognized. 

Established in 1999, the Distinguished Service Award is presented to a member of the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society who has made significant contributions to the community, the legal profession and the Society.

Bruce was named one of Canada’s best Aboriginal law practitioners in a worldwide survey for Best Lawyers Business Edition (Winter 2016), and he is also consistently recommended in LEXPERT’s rankings. A highly respected educator and author, he was a faculty member at Dalhousie Law School from 1979 through 2003. For the duration of his time as a full-time professor, he also served as Counsel for the Union of Nova Scotia Indians. From 2002 until 2011, he was Lead Negotiator for the Mi'kmaq of Nova Scotia in the Mi'kmaq-Canada-Nova Scotia "Made in Nova Scotia Process".

Bruce is well known for his role as legal counsel in the landmark Donald Marshall (1999) case, as well as for representing Mi’kmaq on important Treaty-related cases, such as the cases of Stephen Isaac (1974), James Simon (1985), Joshua Bernard (2003) and Stephen Marshall (2005).  

Also a renowned international scholar on aquaculture law and policy, he helped establish Dalhousie’s Marine & Environmental Law Institute as a leading world centre for educational programs and research addressing natural resource management challenges.

Volunteer service
Bruce was an active volunteer with the Society during the 1980s and 1990s, serving on the Race Relations Committee (now called the Racial Equity Committee), Qualifications Committee and Discipline Subcommittee. His community service has included serving on the Board for the Atlantic Canada Salmon Conservation Federation; an expert fly-fisher and fly-tier, he has also made and donated hundreds of flies to the Atlantic Salmon Federation.

He frequently accepts unpaid speaking engagements from community groups, academic conferences and public forums to further education about systemic racism, Mi’kmaw Aboriginal title, Indigenous rights and Treaty rights. Bruce has also devoted countless hours as a dedicated mentor to several generations of younger Mi’kmaw lawyers. Those who worked and articled with him have gone on to private practice and to become leaders in their communities, many following his lead into public policy and rights-based litigation.

His own post-secondary education included an undergraduate science degree in biology at the University of Guelph and a law degree from Dalhousie University. Following his admission to the Nova Scotia Bar in 1974, he spent several years practising with the firm then known as Stewart MacKeen & Covert and went on to Harvard Law School, where he received his LLM in 1978. He received his Queen’s Counsel designation in 1992.