Tuma Young

By: The Hon. Brian Francis

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Kings Cove, Newfoundland

Hon. Brian Francis: Honourable senators, in honour of both National Indigenous History Month and Pride Month, I rise today to recognize Mr. Tuma Young, a member of the Eskasoni First Nation.

Tuma is the first Mi’kmaw-speaking lawyer in Nova Scotia, having been called to the bar in 2001. He is also the first Indigenous president of a law society in Canada, becoming president of the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society in 2021. He teaches Mi’kmaq Studies at Cape Breton University, with research interests in reclaiming and restoring Mi’kmaq legal principles, the traditional roles and responsibilities of two-spirited people and the political activism of the L’nu from the 1900s to the present.

For decades now, Tuma has worked tirelessly for Indigenous rights, including 2SLGBTQ+ rights, by raising awareness at the local level and ensuring that two-spirited people are celebrated in their communities.

Having grown up in a traditional manner on the Malagawatch First Nation reserve, Tuma experienced first-hand how isolating a lack of knowledge can be for 2SLGBTQ+ youth. Consequently, he is one of the co-founders of the Wabanaki Two Spirit Alliance, an organization that strives to provide equitable and safe environments for two-spirit and Indigenous LGBTQ+ people to live and thrive while promoting their interests.

Going back to his legal career, in late 2022, Tuma achieved another milestone as a small claims court adjudicator when he wrote his decision in Mi’kmaw, which was then translated into English and French. This was a significant moment of inclusivity in the province’s legal system and an important step toward reconciliation.

Additionally, Tuma currently sits as the Nova Scotia board representative on the Canadian Bar Association and is a proud member of the Indigenous Bar Association, Cape Breton Barristers Society, Eastern Door L’nu lawyers and the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society. Tuma is also an adjudicator for the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission and is an arbitrator appointed under the Labour Board of Nova Scotia.

On top of all of that, he continues to offer pro bono legal services to the community as a means of giving back more directly.

I, alongside Senator White and Senator Prosper, would like to welcome Tuma to the Senate of Canada and thank him for his incredible work and his dedication to improving the lives of others while making Mi’kmaq communities proud.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

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