NSBS 2014 Race and the Law Essay Prize: Meaghan Mahadeo
The Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society is pleased to announce Meaghan Mahadeo is the recipient of the 2014 Race and the Law Essay Prize. Ms. Mahadeo is a student at the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University.
This award recognizes and encourages outstanding scholarship by law students in Nova Scotia, on topics pertaining specifically to issues of race and law. Now in its sixth year, it is presented by the Society’s Racial Equity Committee and sponsored by the Halifax law firm Stewart McKelvey.
Ms. Mahadeo’s winning paper is titled for "What’s in a name?: An Analysis of the Politics of Band Membership Codes in the Canadian Indigenous Quest for Self-Determination".
For more information on the award, including a list of past recipients, visit the Race and the Law Essay Prize page of the Society’s website: http://nsbs.org/race-and-law-essay-prize. A number of the winning papers and abstracts are also posted there.
At its heart my paper is about giving Canada’s Aboriginal peoples the opportunity to reclaim the concept of Aboriginality as a necessary element of reconciliation. This process requires the decolonization of the concept of 'Indian,' as determined the Indian Act, and also requires providing Canada’s Aboriginal peoples with a meaningful opportunity to re-imagine and reclaim Aboriginality, and promote self-determination and autonomy. The primary focus of my paper was an analysis of section 10(1) of the Indian Act, which permits First Nations bands to write their own membership codes, and I considered the extent to which this section of the Act encouraged Aboriginal self-determination. I conclude that while section 10(1) has the potential to do important political work in the project of reimagining and reclaiming what it means to be Aboriginal, this work is currently undermined by the colonial definition of 'Indian', still in effect under the Indian Act.