A recent recipient of the Order of Nova Scotia and Order of Canada, Viola Robinson O.N.S., LL.B., LL.D., OC, is a trusted and inspiring leader for the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia. From the 1970s she has worked to end discrimination against the Mi’kmaq people, advocating in particular for changes to sections of the Indian Act that discriminated against Aboriginal women. She served as president of the Native Council of Nova Scotia from 1975 to 1990 and as president of the Native Council of Canada from 1990 to 1991. She was one of seven commissioners who travelled across Canada with the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples in the early 1990s.
Having received an honorary Doctorate of Laws from Dalhousie University, she went on to study law, graduating with a law degree in 1998. She contributed to the development of the Made-in-Nova Scotia Process, a forum for negotiating treaty rights and governance with representatives from the Mi’kmaq community and the provincial and federal governments. She also helped to establish the Rural Native Housing Program, the Court Workers Program, and the Mi’kmaq Legal Support Network.
As land claim negotiator for the Acadia First Nation, member of the National Board of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, senior Mi’kmaq advisor to the Mi’kmaq Rights Initiative, and now Lead Negotiator for the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia, she continues to bring wisdom, persistence, and vision to achieving a just and inclusive society for her people.