This Feminist Friday we are thrilled to profile Prof. Sarah Morales!
Sarah Morales received her J.D. from the University of Victoria in 2004. She received her LL.M. from the University of Arizona in 2006, where she was the Department of Justice Congressional Fellow. In 2005-2006, she clerked for the Pasqua Yaqui Tribal Appellate Court and the Navajo Nation Supreme Court. She completed her Ph.D. at the University of Victoria in 2015, where she was awarded the Canadian Graduate Scholarship from the Social Sciences Humanities Research Council. She was also the Chancellor’s Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of Illinois in the School of American Indian Studies.
Professor Morales joined the Faculty of Law in 2011, where she teaches Tort, Aboriginal Legal Issues and International Human Rights & Indigenous Peoples.
Professor Morales’ research interests are generally in the area of Aboriginal and human rights law. Specifically, she is committed to the recognition and reconciliation of Indigenous legal traditions with the common law and civil law traditions in Canada. Her dissertation, entitled “Snuw’uyulh: Fostering an Understandingo of the Hul’qumi’num Legal Tradition”, examines the Coast Salish legal tradition and attempts to demonstrate the significance of this legal tradition within the Canadian legal system.
In addition to these academic interests, Sarah has been actively involved with Indigenous nations and NGOs across Canada through her work in nation building, inherent rights recognition and international human rights law. Her community based research has resulted in the creation of policies and procedures that are reflective of the traditional laws of the communities who utilize them.
The qualities I admire most in a law professor are…humility, compassion, dedication and a commitment to helping transform Canada’s legal traditions and institutions. I love learning from colleagues who help me to see the potential of law and who share that insight with their students as well.
The trait I deplore in a law professor is…when we take for granted the privilege we have in being able to teach young legal scholars, work on law reform projects, participate in community-based research and think and write about the things that matter most to us on a daily basis. It’s a pretty incredible job and something to be grateful for.
The best time of day for writing is…any stolen moment throughout the day. With a four year old and five month old, those stolen moments are far and few between; however, I have found the hours between 10 pm and 1 am to be quite productive, as of late.
My feminist heroes are…too many to name. My grandmother and mother continue to inspire me every day, both in my work at the university, in my community and in my home. I am also influenced daily by amazing feminist colleagues, who mentor and support me in so many ways. Finally, I am inspired by the Indigenous women in my community, who when faced with seemingly insurmountable challenges and barriers continue to fight, push forward and work hard to create a better life for themselves and their families.
Right now I am working on…a project with my community to create child and family wellness legislation based on our own Coast Salish laws and teachings.
Right now I am reading…a number of children’s books (to my littles) by Indigenous authors. My daughter’s new favorite is You Hold Me Up by Monique Gray Smith. It has a powerful message about how we can help to support each and lift each other and some beautiful illustrations by Danielle Daniel. Little You by Richard Van Camp, was a gift from my sister, and is favourite to read to my son.
And I wish I were reading…The Wetiko Legal Principles by Hadley Friedland. I am anxiously awaiting my preordered copy of this book, which promises to be transformative in how we think about Indigenous legal traditions.
I would recommend that all IFLS readers read…Birdie by Tracey Lindberg. After I finished reading Birdie I said to Tracey, “I didn’t read your book, I felt it.” It is a beautifully written book that captures the external and internal struggles of so many Indigenous women. In a time when Indigenous women are often overlooked by our justice system, I think it would be transformative if more people were able to empathize with our lived realities and struggles.
A song I love that doesn’t get enough airplay is…Poison & Wine by the Civil Wars.
If I wasn’t a law professor, I would…be spending my time at home with my kids, traveling with my family, working in my community, learning from my Elders, as a mental health advocate, learning Hul’q’umi’num … and much much more! Thankfully this job already allows me to do some of these things!
The best part of clerking at the Pasqua Yaqui Tribal Appellate Court and the Navajo Nation Supreme Court was…working in justice systems that recognized and upheld Indigenous laws.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned by studying Aboriginal law…is that Aboriginal law, as it has been developed in Canadian courts, will never foster reconciliation in Canada; however, a recognition and implementation of Indigenous legal traditions may.
Many thanks, Prof. Morales! Your recommendations are amazing.