Skip to Content

Interview with Naiomi W. Metallic

Naiomi Metallic was the first Mi'kmaq law clerk at the Supreme Court of Canada. The Halifax lawyer holds the Chancellor’s Chair in aboriginal law and policy at Dalhousie University Schulich School of Law .

Photo of Naiomi Metallic

CBA National: Who has had the biggest influence on you and why?

Naiomi Metallic: My dad. My mom. My high school English teacher, Ora Watson. The Mi’kmaq professor who encouraged me to apply to law school, Patti Doyle-Bedwell. The Hon. Michel Bastarache for picking me, of all people, to be one of his law clerks. My husband, Al Mcpherson.

N: If you had a personal motto what would it be? 

NM: Treat others as you wish to be treated.

N: What would you do if you could take a year off?

NM: I would want to immerse myself in Mìgmaq language, culture, worldview, principles and laws. Become fluent in my language and culture.

N: Name three books that influenced you.

NM: The Unjust Society by Harold Cardinal and Skyscrapers Hide the Heavens by J.R. Miller figured really prominently in learning about the historic treatment of indigenous people by the state in a way I didn't learn in high school. George Orwell’s 1984 was influential in my understanding of relationships between citizens and state, helping me as a young person to understand that the state may not always be benign in its actions.

N: What new skill would you like to learn and why?

NM: Speaking Mìgmaq, because it’s so important to being Mìgmaq and knowing our worldview. I think I would also enjoy learning traditional native dancing, but I’m probably too old for that now.

N: If you were not a lawyer what would you be?

NM: I often think I’d enjoy being much more involved in my husband’s restaurant, like his front-of-house manager.

N: What advice would you give your younger self?

NM: I would tell myself to have spent more time with my Dad, in my late teens and early twenties. He died when I was 28.

N: If you could change one thing about the practice of law what would it be?

NM: I would make it more reflective of and accessible to historically disadvantaged communities.