Tracey Lindberg is a citizen of As’in’i’wa’chi Ni’yaw Nation Rocky Mountain Cree and hails from the Kelly Lake Cree Nation community. She is an award-winning academic writer and teaches Indigenous studies and Indigenous law at two universities in Canada. She sings the blues loudly, talks quietly and is next in a long line of argumentative Cree women.
Tracey Lindberg’s first book, Birdie, is about a beautiful Cree woman with a dark secret in her past, Bernice (Birdie) has left her home in northern Alberta to travel to Gibsons, B.C. She is on something of a vision quest, looking for family, for home, for understanding. She is also driven by the leftover teenaged desire to meet Pat John—Jesse from The Beachcombers—because he is, as she says, a working, healthy Indian man. Birdie heads for Molly’s Reach to find answers, but they are not the ones she expected.
“Birdie roars with life. Tracey Lindberg weaves a gripping account of a painful journey. Her heroine Bernice is by turns lyrical and brutal, gripping and insightful. An uncompromising first novel.”—EDEN ROBINSON
“This is a gritty, articulate, beautifully written novel, and Lindberg is a powerful new voice on the literary landscape and on the road to decolonization.”—MARIA CAMPBELL
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Tracey Lindberg is also the winner of the Governor General’s Gold Medal for her dissertation, “Critical Indigenous Legal Theory”
In this article, I have attempted to outline the ways and means in which I entered my training and understanding as an Indigenous legal scholar. This took me to a Canadian law school, an American law school, and finally to an Indigenous community that took responsibility for educating me in Indigenous lands, laws, and legal orders. The struggles I have detailed here and the stories I have provided serve a few purposes. The first is one that I hope assists Indigenous students attending law school. The purpose in writing this article is to let you know that you do not have to lose the incredibly challenging and beautiful stuff put in us by birth. We come from critical Indigenous legal traditions that allow us to critique, question, and build something better. Canadian law can make our processes of learning this and our substantive knowledge feel like marginalized information. That gut feeling you have that tells you something is not fair is very likely precisely right. Pay attention to it, hone it, and listen to it. It is a part of your critical consciousness, and it is going to make you a very good thinker and potentially an excellent lawyer.
The second purpose for, and rationale behind, publishing this article is to provide an understanding for non-Indigenous students about the existence of, and need to ask about, Indigenous laws and legal orders in your legal studies. We are all being short-changed if we do not investigate, inquire, and require discussion. This article also serves as a reminder for faculty and staff at law schools that there is an obligation to address with seriousness and studiousness the reality of Indigenous laws and legal orders in Canada as a multi-juridical entity. Many of our students know this and are living this—we need to catch up with, be informed about, and be respectful of them. The final reason I wrote this piece is to introduce the notion of the praxis of critical Indigenous legal theory. Having taught the course content to a generation of law students and now having had feedback from some of the practitioners, I think that understanding Indigenous law as a praxis/practice, and not just a theory, requires more of us as educators, students, and practitioners.
For more information, go to http://www.traceylindberg.ca/
We very much look forward to having Tracey Lindberg speak at Giiwenh!