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History of the Indigenous Law Student Governance

The Indigenous Law Students Association (ILSA) has been a community for Indigenous law students at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law for many years. As Indigenous students come to the UOttawa from communities across Turtle Island, ILSA has always acted as a sort of “home away from home” for our Indigenous members. We’ve long been dedicated to fostering a community, putting on events, and gaining recognition within colonial legal spaces. As we are not sure the exact year the Indigenous Law Students Association started, we do know that our Indigenous faculty members and elders who we so deeply cherish, were once ILSA members themselves. This goes to show the deep roots of our community, and our inherent place in this institution. 


As the ILSA was historically regarded as a “club” under the Faculty’s Common Law Student Society, ILSA members began to envision a new future for our community. We hoped to become a recognized student government, parallel to, not under, the existing common law student body. We wanted to be recognized as a community representing our land, our traditions, and our Iaws. Roughly two years ago, we started to take the necessary steps to make ILSA’s vision come to life. Past and present ILSA members worked tirelessly to develop a motion to become a self-governing body, while generating support from allies, faculty, and community. On November 12, 2020, our motion to become an Indigenous self-governing body was unanimously passed, and the Indigenous Law Students Governance (ILSG) was born. We are touched by the support the Indigenous community and non-Indigenous allies have shown us in helping our vision come to life. As we continue to create the Indigenous self-governing body of our dreams, we have dedicated ourselves to doing this work in a good way. 



About the Artist

My name is Kahsennine Nelson and I am a 21 year old full time mom to 2 under 2, while also lucky enough to have the privilege of raising a stepdaughter. I’m from the Mohawk community of Kanehsatake, located near Oka, Quebec.  I have always had an interest in drawing and have been drawing for fun until recently, where I began creating logos & tattoo designs for other people as a small side business to create more of an income to provide for my family. I enjoy bringing my client(s) ideas to life and that is why everything I design is custom to the client(s).


I recently collaborated with the Law Student Governance (ILSG) in creating a logo that represents their student government based off of their ideas, some of which include, for example, the seven grandfather teachings and the incorporation of an Algonquin name. For the main logo, I used the full body  of a turtle and incorporated the medicine wheel (top right side). I also included the  Haudenosaunee Two Row Wampum (top left) which symbolizes an agreement of mutual respect and peace. On the very top of that I included sky domes which represent the three levels of the Iroquois cosmos. The celestial world, our world and the world of darkness. The two spirals represent the celestial tree. The second logo, the turtles back is filled with words that the Law Student Governance came up with together that best describe them and their core values.


We are currently in the process of drafting our Constitution.

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