Board of Directors
John Borrows B.A., M.A., J.D., LL.M. (Toronto), Ph.D. (Osgoode Hall Law School), LL.D. (Hons., Dalhousie & Law Society of Upper Canada) F.R.S.C., is the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Law at the University of Victoria Law School in British Columbia. His publications include, Recovering Canada; The Resurgence of Indigenous Law (Donald Smiley Award for the best book in Canadian Political Science, 2002), Canada’s Indigenous Constitution (Canadian Law and Society Best Book Award 2011), Drawing Out Law: A Spirit’s Guide (2010), Freedom and Indigenous Constitutionalism (Donald Smiley Award for the best book in Canadian Political Science, 2016), The Right Relationship (with Michael Coyle, ed.), all from the University of Toronto Press. He is the 2017 Killam Prize winner in Social Sciences. John is Anishinaabe/Ojibway and a member of the Chippewa of the Nawash First Nation in Ontario, Canada.
Melanie Debassige, MBA, ICD.D
Melanie Debassige has over 20 years of experience in Indigenous Economic Development. She obtained a Diploma in Native Management and Economic Development from Trent University, and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Western Ontario. She has a certificate in Economic Development from the University of Waterloo and is a certified Professional Aboriginal Economic Developer with the Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers. She completed the Director’s Education Program at the Rotman School of Management and is a certified corporate director which complements her Master’s in Business Administration. Currently, she serves as a Director on the Mother Earth Renewable Energy Board that oversees the for-profit wind turbine corporation that is solely owned by M’Chigeeng First Nation. Melanie has been recognized by the Canadian Board Diversity Council in the Diversity 50. She is a strategic advisor to the National Energy Board of Canada on Indigenous issues.
David Paterson is a Vancouver lawyer who has spent more than 30 years practicing in the field of Aboriginal rights. From 2000 to 2004 he was Chair of the Committee on Indigenous Peoples for the International Bar Association and he has consulted internationally on the rights of Indigenous Peoples. He was part of the legal team that brought the class action concerning Indian Residential Schools which resulted in the settlement of residential school claims in 2005 and he sat on the All-Parties Advisory Committee to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He continues to be a member of the Oversight Committee to the IRS abuse compensation process.
Bob Watts has been involved in many major Indigenous issues in Canada over the past 20 years and led the process, with support from across Canada and internationally, to establish Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He was Interim CEO of the Commission and was a member of the team, which negotiated the historic Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. His current activities include working with Mediate BC to recommend ways for Aboriginal communities to respond to changes to the Canadian Human Rights Act, and working on the Siting Process with the Nuclear Waste Management Organization. He is an adjunct professor and fellow in the School of Policy Studies, Queen’s University, and a frequent speaker on Aboriginal issues. He is also a former CEO of the Assembly of First Nations, served as the Chief of Staff to the Assembly of First Nations‘ National Chief Phil Fontaine, and is a former Assistant Deputy Minister for the Government of Canada. He is a graduate of the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University and fellow at the Harvard Law School. Mr. Watts is from Mohawk and Ojibway ancestry, and is a member of the Six Nations Reserve.