Roberta Jamieson, Mohawk, 1953-
She is a Mohawk from the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory where she has lived throughout her life. She was raised in a close-knit family of eight brothers and sisters, attending school with other Six Nations students.
In 1970, Jamieson entered McGill University intending to study medicine and there became involved in the James Bay Cree defence of their territory being taken over by the James Bay Hydro Development Project. That ultimately led her to become executive assistant to George Manual in the early days of the National Indian Brotherhood and the development of the World Council of Indigenous Peoples. This political awakening and desire to defend First Nation rights led her to change her studies from medicine to law. She received her LL.B. degree in 1976 from University of Western Ontario School of Law, the first woman from a First Nation in Canada to graduate from law school. After graduation she became part of the Canadian Indian Rights Commission secretariat, and from 1978 to 1982, she worked at the Indian Commission of Ontario as executive assistant to the Commissioner, senior policy advisor and senior mediator.
In 1982, Jamieson became the first non-parliamentarian to be appointed an ex-officio member of a House of Commons Committee, the Special Task Force on Indian Self-Government that in 1983 produced a final report known by the name of its chair, “The Penner Report”, supported by all political parties, which stands to this day as a viable framework for Native self-government in Canada. She was also chair of the legal group advising the Assembly of First Nations during the First Ministers’ Conferences after the patriation of the Constitution.
In 1986, Ms. Jamieson was appointed by federal and provincial Orders-in-Council and by agreement of the First Nations in Ontario to be Commissioner of the Indian Commission of Ontario, a position she held until 1989. As a facilitator and mediator she helped conclude negotiations involving policing, land issues, and self-government.
From 1989 to 1999, Jamieson served the Legislative Assembly as Ombudsman of Ontario, the first woman to be appointed to this position. During this period she became the founding President of the Canadian Ombudsman Association and was Vice President of the International Ombudsman Institute, responsible for relations with various agencies associated with the United Nations. Her work was strongly influenced by her traditional Mohawk values and history of diplomacy.
Jamieson is a graduate of the Harvard University Program on Negotiation for Senior Executives and has received numerous honorary doctorate degrees (Carleton University, Dalhousie University, McMaster University, Lakehead University, University of Western Ontario, University of Windsor, Waterloo Lutheran University, University of Sudbury, Ryerson University, Law Society of Upper Canada, York University, and University of Toronto).
Jamieson has received an Outstanding Contribution Award from the National Indian Brotherhood (1977), an Award from the Chiefs of Ontario in recognition of exceptional leadership and strengthening of Indian Government (1983), and the Keepers of Our Culture Award from First Nations Women in Canada (1984). She received the Golden Eagle Feather Award from the National Association of Friendship Centres (1997) and the National Aboriginal Achievement Award for Law and Justice (1998). In 2001, she became the second person to receive the Indigenous Peoples Counsel (IPC) Award of the Indigenous Bar Association. Jamieson was named a Member of the Order of Canada in 1994.In 2001, Jamieson ran for election as Chief of Six Nations on a platform of accountability, accessibility, openness, and uniting the community, the largest First Nation population in Canada.
In 2002, Jamieson joined elder William Commanda as a recipient of the Harmony Award and was cited for her wisdom, courage, warmth, grace and sincerity in making a significant contribution towards eliminating racial and social barriers in Canada. In the same year, she was named the Recipient of the first Deo Kernahan Memorial Award presented by the Urban Alliance on Race Relations in Toronto. Applying her Mohawk traditional values, Jamieson is well known as an authority on non-adversarial methods for conflict resolution. Her work in this area was recognized in 1991 when she was named the Goodman Fellow at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. In 1992, she was selected by the International Society of Professionals in Dispute Resolution as the first recipient of the Mary Parker Follett Award, paying tribute to “an individual who, with passion, willingness to take risks, and high involvement of those affected, is tackling a contemporary problem in the field of dispute resolution.”
Jamieson is the founding chair of the International Aboriginal Media Arts Festival "imagineNATIVE " and served as a member of the Advisory Committee to the Minister of Canadian Heritage on the National Gathering on Aboriginal Artistic Expression, and the National Gathering on Cultural Tourism. She is a member of the Advisory Board of CH Television in Hamilton, Ontario, the former co-chair of the President’s Committee on Indigenous Studies at McMaster University, and a board member for Pro Bono Law Ontario. She is also a founding board member of the Centre for Research in Women’s Health, a University of Toronto and Women’s College Hospital partnership. She is also a Board member of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons. In 2004 Jamieson was appointed as a member of the Health Council of Canada and was subsequently elected Vice-Chair.
During her term as Chief at Six Nations, she continued to demonstrate her passion for fostering the education and training of aboriginal youth in the health sciences. She is spearheading a groundbreaking strategy “Vision 20/20” committed to graduating greater numbers of aboriginal physicians.
In October 2004, Jamieson ended her term as Chief at Six Nations and on November 4th, she assumed leadership of the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation, a non-profit organization that encourages and empowers young Aboriginal people to advance their educational and career aspirations.
As Chief, Commissioner, Ombudsman, and activist, Roberta Jamieson has over thirty years experience in advocacy and conflict resolution involving governments at all levels. She is a dynamic and highly skilled leader with a unique ability to succeed in complex political environments. Her expertise includes social justice, critical analysis, problem solving, consensus building and organizational change.
Jamieson resides on the Six Nation of the Grand River Territory with her husband, Tom Hill of the Seneca Nation, Curator/Director of the Woodland Cultural Centre Museum and internationally recognized expert on First Nation history and culture. Roberta and Tom have a daughter, Jessica, and a granddaughter, Daisy.

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