About the Nunavut Law Program

Students at the First Year Welcoming Ceremony with Program Director Stephen Mansell (far right) and College of Law Dean Martin Phillipson (far left).

Delivered in partnership between the College of Law, Nunavut Arctic College (NAC) and the Government of Nunavut, the Nunavut Law Program aims to increase the number of practicing lawyers in Nunavut, produce graduates that can practice in various fields of law, and improve access to justice for Nunavummiut. It will also deliver relevant educational programming to the Territory in line with the Government of Nunavut’s Sivumut Abluqta mandate. 

Students will be registered with the College of Law, and study at NAC in Iqaluit. Taught over four years, the program will prepare students for legal studies during the first year, and offer the same rigorous program as the College of Law in the remaining three. Students who successfully complete the program in 2021 will receive a University of Saskatchewan Juris Doctor (JD) degree, and join a community of distinguished alumni that is over a century old, including a former prime minister, provincial premiers, governors general and many Supreme Court judges and talented lawyers. 

Classes began on September 11, 2017.

Faculty and staff

Prior to becoming Director of the Nunavut Law Program in May 2017, Stephen worked for the Government of Nunavut Department of Justice. Between 2009 and 2017 Stephen served in many legal and policy roles within the Department of Justice most recently as Director of Policy and Planning and legal advisor to the Devolution Secretariat. Stephen has significant experience in relation to legal and government issues in Nunavut and Canada’s North. Prior to his work with the Government of Nunavut, Stephen practiced law in Yellowknife.

Stephen has a strong record of leadership within the legal profession in Nunavut. He is past president of both the Law Society of Nunavut and the Nunavut Branch of the Canadian Bar Association and is the current Nunavut representative on the Canadian Bar Association National Board of Directors. He has also served as board member for the Nunavut Legal Services Board and as a member of the Nunavut Judicial Advisory Committee. Outside the legal realm Stephen has a strong record of public service, including serving as a city councillor and chair of the Iqaluit Public Safety and Finance committees. 

Stephen is a proud alumnus of the  University of Saskatchewan College of Law (J.D. 2007) and is familiar with the College’s approach to legal education that focuses on the provision of opportunities to a diverse range of students, and a strong commitment to providing graduates with the academic and practical skills that will enable them to succeed in the practice of law.

Stephen spent much of his childhood in Nunavut having attended elementary and high school in Iqaluit. He and his wife Theresa have two young daughters.

Email: stephen.mansell@usask.ca 

For the past four years, Wendy Parkes has taught Legal Writing and Real Property Law at the Program of Legal Studies for Native People, University of Saskatchewan, and has tutored Inuit students at Nunavut Sivuniksavut in Ottawa. In 2014, Wendy was appointed a part-time Professor at the University of Ottawa Law School, where she taught an upper-year writing skills course.


Beginning in 2003, Wendy led University of Ottawa Law School’s Legal Writing Workshop, which provided writing support and mentoring to first-year, graduate and Indigenous law students. From 2003 to 2007, Wendy practiced civil litigation and corporate law with an Ottawa law firm, appearing in legal proceedings at Small Claims Court, the Superior Court of Ontario, Federal Court of Canada and Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal. Prior to law school, she was a policy advisor with the federal government on Indigenous, Arctic and environmental issues. While at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Wendy was Senior Advisor to the Ambassador for Circumpolar Affairs and served as a member of the Canadian Delegation to the Arctic Council senior officials meetings. She is a 2001 graduate of the University of Ottawa Law School and a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada.   

Email: wendy.parkes@usask.ca 

Benjamin Ralston has been teaching at the University of Saskatchewan College of Law since 2015, lecturing on Aboriginal law, administrative law, and tort law, among other topics. Prior to joining the faculty as an assistant professor, Benjamin worked on legal publications at the Native Law Centre, including the Canadian Native Law Reporter. He also taught law courses as a sessional lecturer in both the College of Law and the Kanawayihetaytan Askiy program (formerly known as the Indigenous Peoples Resource Management program), which provides training to First Nations land managers from across Canada. 

Benjamin completed his Bachelor of Arts and Juris Doctor degrees at the University of British Columbia and was called to the British Columbia bar in 2011. While in private practice, Benjamin specialized in civil and administrative litigation with a particular interest in Aboriginal and environmental law. This gave him the opportunity to work in various regulatory contexts, including representing First Nations clients in the Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River and the Joint Review Panel for the Northern Gateway Pipeline. He went on to complete a Master of Laws with distinction at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand in 2014, writing a comparative law thesis on Indigenous-Crown marine spatial planning. Benjamin moved to Saskatoon later that same year. He joined the Law Society of Saskatchewan in 2015 and has remained an active member since, carrying on a part time practice in Aboriginal law and supervising Pro Bono Students Canada projects.

Email: benjamin.ralston@usask.ca 

Born in Arkisserniaq, a northern Greenland community, in 1960 Aaju has lived up and down the west coast of her native country as a result of her father's teaching and preaching career. At age eleven, Aaju left Greenland to attend school in Denmark where she learned to read German, French, English, Latin and speak Danish. At age eighteen, she returned home to Greenland.

In 1981, Aaju moved to Iqaluit, in Nunavut, Canada where she has taken up residence ever since. In Iqaluit Aaju learned English and Inuktitut, which has helped her succeed in her work as an interpreter, and she has done volunteer work with various women's and interpretation organizations. Her interests led her to the Arctic College where she took Inuit studies. She has travelled Greenland, Europe and Canada performing lamp lighting ceremonies, traditional Inuit songs, displaying sealskin fashions. Currently Aaju has a home-based sealskin garment business, translates, collects traditional law from elders, raised her five children, drove a dump-truck to build the breakwater in Iqaluit, has worked as a cultural guide in the tourism industry sailing to most communities in Greenland and arctic Canada. Aaju is a graduate of the Akitsiraq Law School (2005) and was called to the bar (2007).

In recent years Aaju has been involved with documentaries such as Angry Inuk, Tunniit: Retracing the lines of Inuit tattoos, and Arctic Defenders. These days Aaju is advocating for Inuit rights to seal and sealskin products as well as the Inuit right to be involved in issues related to Arctic waters. Aaju received the Order of Canada on December 30, 2011.

Serena has been a Law Librarian for approximately 11 years and was the Akitsiraq Law Librarian (UVic Law) from 2002-2005.  Serena’s role is to help guide the students through the research process.  Serena will provide student with one-on-one research help, and she will lead group instruction classes on how to use research databases and print legal sources.  

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Contact Us

For more information, contact:

Stephen Mansell
Director, Nunavut Law Program
867-979-7242
stephen.mansell@usask.ca