By Patty Pitts
University of Victoria law PhD student Andrée Boisselle is one of 15 recipients of a scholarship worth $150,000 over three years from the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation. As a 2008 Trudeau Scholar, Boisselle will be examining the Stó:lõ and Western approaches to law to suggest ways that both can enter into a meaningful exchange.
After earning degrees in civil and common law at McGill University, Boisselle practiced civil and commercial litigation in Montréal before earning a master’s law degree at the Université de Montréal.
Her master’s thesis, which examined the duty of the Crown to consult Aboriginal peoples, received the Québec Law Professors’ Association Prize.
Last summer she participated in the Stó:lõ ethnohistory field school offered by UVic’s history department, where student participants live in the Stó:lõ community while they combine the study of historical documents with oral histories.
“This award results from a series of incredible privileges, starting with being welcomed and taught by the Stó:lõ . . . last summer and now through a further internship by which the Stó:lõ allow me to take part in researching and reflecting on the cultural underpinnings of their legal order,” says Boisselle from Québec City, where she is participating in a conference. “The Trudeau Scholarship will help me complete my research, participate in conferences throughout my studies and form an even wider network of peers and mentors working from different disciplines on the complex issue of intercultural dialogue.”
“Along with remarkable insight and intelligence, Andrée has a way of working across cultures and traditions that is honest, direct and respectful,” says law professor Jeremy Webber, one of Boisselle’s PhD supervisors. “She also draws much insight from her personal experience of engagement across the English and French linguistic cultures and the civil and common law cultures.”
Instead of requiring Indigenous peoples to convert their legal traditions into terms and categories that reflect Western law, Boisselle seeks to engage both systems in a way that achieves deeper understanding of both traditions in a manner respectful of both.
Her research will involve the myths, narratives and legal institutions of the Stó:lõ along with the philosophical, ethical and spiritual sources of Western legal traditions.
Boisselle is the second Trudeau scholar from UVic’s graduate law program. In 2006 law master’s student Dawnis Kennedy was chosen as a Trudeau Scholar. She is currently pursuing a PhD at the University of Toronto.