Dr. Lynn Gehl

Dr. Lynn Gehl

Peterborough, Ontario
Dr. Lynn Gehl, Algonquin Anishinaabe-Ikwe, is an Indigenist Cultural Critic, Artist, Author, and Advocate. She is well known across Canada as a critic of colonial law and policy that harm Indigenous people and the land. Her work also encompasses the celebration of Indigenous knowledge.
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Dr Lynn Gehl, was a recipient of the 2022 Governor General’s Award in Commemoration of Persons Day. She is also the recipient of the 2023 ReconciliAtion Award from Peterborough’s Community and Race Relations Committee and the Kawartha Truth and Reconciliation Support Group.

Dr. Lynn Gehl is an Algonquin Anishinaabeg scholar, advocate, and artist. She is one of eight siblings and grew up in the projects of inner-city Toronto. Dr. Lynn Gehl was born with a congenital disability and despite several surgeries and interventions today Lynn has a vision disability that affects many aspects of her life such as reading, writing, and walking. Dr. Lynn Gehl’s grandmother’s family was removed from her home community of Pikwakanagan First Nation because of sex discrimination in the Indian Act.

Relegated to the confines of inner-city project living, growing up Dr. Lynn Gehl experienced the worst of the human condition that manifests within racism, sexism, and ableism such as violence, poverty, a lack of safety, hunger, drugs, alcohol, and forced relocation. Today Dr. Lynn Gehl’s work encompasses both hard-core anti-colonial work and the joyful celebration of Indigenous knowledge. Dr. Lynn Gehl has a doctorate in Indigenous Studies, a master’s in Canadian Studies and Native Studies, a bachelor’s in Cultural Anthropology (summa cum laude), and a community college diploma in Chemical Technology. During her graduate studies, she was both an Ontario Graduate Scholar and a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Fellow.

In her twenties, Dr. Lynn Gehl began her family oral research and archival research to have members of her ancestry entitled to Indian status registration. While her grandmother and father were eventually instated, she was denied. Lynn then turned to Canada’s court system to remedy Indian and Northern Affairs Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms violation. Through this court challenge the Department of Justice spent $1 million litigating against her on the matter of unknown and unstated paternity.

After 30 years Dr. Lynn Gehl, in her late fifties, was finally registered as a status Indian and is now in a more “central” place in her ancestral community of Pikwakanagan First Nation. While Gehl v Canada resulted in a change in the Indian Act and the “Gehl remedy”, Lynn is ambivalent about her victory in part because she understands the power that the state had over her during this time, as well as she fully understands that the genocide continues in the form of both the Indian Act and the land claims process that is imposed on the Algonquin people.

Drawing on life experiences Dr. Lynn Gehl challenges Canada’s practices, policies, and laws of colonial genocide such as the Algonquin land claims and self-government process, sex discrimination in the Indian Act on the matter of unknown and unstated paternity, Canada’s lack of policy and action addressing Indigenous women and girls with disabilities who are bigger targets of sexual violence, and the further destruction of Akikpautik / Chaudière Falls–an Anishinaabeg sacred place. As a non-production-oriented artist when Dr. Lynn Gehl feels like it, she weaves wampum belts, builds petro forms, beads feathers, creates collages, and paints.

Although due to a vision disability, Dr. Lynn learned how to read and write at a later stage in life, Dr. Lynn Gehl has four books. She also has several academic contributions in journals and book chapters; 140 community contributions in magazines, websites, newspapers, and op-eds; and 150 personal blogs. Lynn is frequently called upon as an expert by various media outlets to offer commentary on Indigenous issues. Dr. Lynn Gehl has also provided testimony to the Senate, the House of Commons, and the United Nations on the rights of Indigenous women and girls regarding unknown and unstated paternity and the matter of Indigenous women and girls with disabilities who are bigger targets of sexual violence.




TVO Today


A Woman's Fight Against the Indian Act | The Agenda


Dr. Lynn Gehl Topic Presentations

algonquin anishinnaabeg of the ottawa river valley - an introduction.

  • Virtual PresentationKeynote PresentationWorkshop SessionHalf Day TrainingFull Day Training
  • Due to Canada’s national narrative promulgated through state power gained through pilfering Indigenous land and resources  no less, many settler people and their descendants have been socialized into believing and worshipping a fiction. That being, that Canada rests on two founding nations: the British and French. This is a bold faced lie.  The reality is, that at the heart of Canada, rests the Algonquin Anishinaabeg and our traditional territory. Canada’s parliament buildings, supreme court, governor general’s residence, prime minister’s home, and most of its national galleries illegally squat on unceded Algonquin territory. This being the case while the Algonquin continue to be divided through the federal-provincial order, continue to live in squalor, and continue to be denied their land and resources in such a way that mino-pimadiziwin is not obtainable.

    Using maps and drawing from personal experience this presentation will open a window into understanding: The land and waterscapes that the Algonquin occupied at the time of European contact; Who the Algonquin were at the time of contact; The history of the French and British denial of Algonquin rights; The peace treaty relationships the Algonquin entered into with the British and how the British violated these relationships; An introduction to the Algonquin land claims process in Ontario; The continued desecration of Algonquin sacred places; And finally add commentary about the latest forked-tongue rhetoric of “nation to nation” and “reconciliation”.

debwewin journey

  • Virtual PresentationKeynote PresentationWorkshop SessionHalf Day TrainingFull Day Training
  • Dr. Lynn Gehl discusses Debwewin Journey and the ancient Anishinaabe way of coming to truth and knowledge that involves the “circle of heart” knowledge and the “circle of mind” knowledge working together. Rooted in the Anishinaabeg language, traditional teachings, and ancient Midewiwin scroll knowledge, this way of coming to truth and knowledge predates European arrival on Turtle Island. It draws heavily on her own learning journey of coming to this ancient way.

indigenous knowledge vs western knowledge

  • Virtual PresentationKeynote PresentationWorkshop SessionHalf Day TrainingFull Day Training
  • It is often said there is the need to return to Indigenous knowledge. All people have Indigenous knowledge yet some people are unable to grasp what it is because it sits outside the prevailing paradigm. A good way for people to begin learning and thinking about Indigenous knowledge is through comparing it to the scientific methodology. Drawing from an ancient icon/symbol as her organizing system, Dr. Lynn Gehl offer a model of unharnessed knowledge to help nudge people into the paradigm of Indigenous knowledge. It draws heavily on her own learning journey of moving more deeply into Indigenous knowledge.

gehl v canada - unknown and unstated paternity and the indian act

  • Virtual PresentationKeynote PresentationWorkshop SessionHalf Day TrainingFull Day Training
  • This talk reviews the long history of discrimination in the Indian Act and the history of Indigenous women challenging it. Dr. Lynn Gehl discuss the creation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Canada’s process of amending the Indian Act in 1985 to bring it in line with section 15, yet instead of eliminating the discrimination Canada created new forms of sex discrimination.

    In Gehl v Canada, Dr. Lynn Gehl challenged the specific matter of unknown and unstated paternity where after 23 years of being tangled and trapped in Canada’s court system it was ruled by the Ontario Court of Appeal that she was entitled to a lesser form of Indian status. Within this discussion she flesh out two constructs she created to challenge the nation state’s hegemonic power: The Indigenous Famous Five which evolved into the Indigenous Famous Six and “6(1)a All the Way!”. In this talk Dr. Lynn Gehl reveals her deepest insights about power and Canada’s legal system as a way of coming to truth.

introduction to the treaty and land claims process

  • Virtual PresentationKeynote PresentationWorkshop SessionHalf Day TrainingFull Day Training
  • Many people have difficulty understanding the treaty process in Canada and how it shifted (read slithered) into the land claims process. With this, many people wonder if the current land claims process really is a modern treaty process that respects Indigenous rights as laid out in the United Nations Declaration of Indigenous people.

    While the Algonquin Anishinaabeg of what is now called the Ottawa River Valley are the host of Canada the nation state, the Algonquin were denied a treaty during the historic treaty process yet our ancestors were present at the 1764 Treaty at Niagara and submitted their first land petition in 1776. In this talk Dr. Lynn Gehl draw on her first-person experience as an Algonquin and our history to illustrate that colonial genocide continues today.

allyship and reconciliation

  • Virtual PresentationKeynote PresentationWorkshop SessionHalf Day TrainingFull Day Training
  • Drawing on her personal experience once situated in a decades long Charter challenge regarding sex discrimination in the Indian Act, situated within the Ontario Algonquin land claims process, as well as living with a vision disability this talk draws on materials created intended to critically inform and guide settler people and their descendants in their role and practices of reconciliation.

    Dr. Lynn Gehl will draw on “The Ally Bill of Responsibilities”, and “A Colonized Ally Meets a Decolonized Ally: This is What They Learned” where the goal is moving people to critically think about structures of power beyond ‘meaningless actions’ and into the direction of ‘critically aware genuine actions’. All Beings and all people require clean land, water, and air where as such we all must reconcile our relationship between the Earth and greater cosmos through standing behind Indigenous people and their knowledge paradigm.

intersectionality and indigenous women and girls with disabilities

  • Virtual PresentationKeynote PresentationWorkshop SessionHalf Day TrainingFull Day Training
  • Black feminist thought created the concept “intersectionality” as a measure to help people understand the difficulties of living under more than one layer of structural oppression such as both sexism and racism. This talk begins with a discussion of what the concept means cognitively, and also what it means at the level of practice in terms of encountering people who are intersectionally oppressed and in terms of direction at the level of social justice.

    From this place of understanding the discussion will then shift to the matter of Indigenous women and girls with disabilities (IWagWid) who are disturbingly bigger targets of sexual assault. Drawing on the Gehl Report (2021) the issues discussed will include: a discussion of the cause of disability; the limitations of the national inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls; a statistical snapshot of both their higher rates of disabilities and higher rates of sexual assault; a summary of all previous recommendations; and the call for a political model of disability which demands Canada do better in serving IWagWid.

    This discussion will be inclusive of Dr. Lynn Gehl’s recent United Nations written and oral submission during the “79th Session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women Seeking Input on the Rights of Indigenous Women”.

creator's first sacred pipe (also known as akikpautik / pipe bowl falls / chaudière falls)

  • Virtual PresentationKeynote PresentationWorkshop SessionHalf Day TrainingFull Day Training
  • Most humans think sacred places consist of brick-and-mortar buildings, where inside the walls of such places human made symbols and icons are hung, placed, and strategically situated. This, though, is a narrow and anthropomorphic understanding of the sacred.

    Indigenous people here on Turtle Island have a much vaster understanding of the sacred. We know that before the first human was lowered to the Earth all else pre-existed them: The Rock Nations, the Water Nations, the Tree and Plant Nations, and the Four Legged, the Finned, and the Winged Nations …

    ‘Akikpautik’ is a Sacred Land and Waterscape for the Anishinaabeg and beyond. It is the place where Creation carved ‘Creator’s First Sacred Pipe’ where the Anishinaabeg ascribed the readings and meaning of the Pipe so that future generations could learn from it and respect the larger forces of Creator’s Law.

    In the 17th and 18th centuries, before the advent of the camera and before the destruction by hydro dams, artists such as Davies, Hunter, Young, Cockburn, Woolford, and Krieghoff preserved the beauty of this sacred place in their works.

    This talk, or better said viewing, offers a curated collection of this art narrated through an Indigenous paradigm, offering observers and listeners a different lens of what is sacred; thus opening the Doorway that western man-made religions, industrialization, patriarchy, and capitalism closed.


What a humbling honour and privilege to be able to read Dr. Lynn Gehl’s profound and wise contribution and take her direction regarding the vital action required of all who are committed to promoting equality and justice.

Kim Pate


Congratulations are due to Dr. Lynn Gehl for her successful challenge of the Indian Registrar’s refusal to allow her to be registered under the Indian Act. The refusal was based on the fact that because Lynn could not prove who her paternal grandfather was or that he was entitled to be registered, she could not be registered. The Court of Appeal for Ontario found that requiring her to prove the unprovable (the name of her ancestor) was unreasonable and that there was circumstantial evidence showing that he was ‘likely’ an Indian and a member of the community. On that basis she had established all she could or needed to, and it was unreasonable of the Registrar to demand more. The...

Murray Sinclair

The Honourable

Dr. Lynn Gehl is at the cutting edge with her concepts and ideas. She is on a journey and she documents it well.

Lorelei Anne Lambert

Dr. Lynn Gehl embodies essential Indigenous wisdom, bravery, and responsibility in her work to dismantle the systems of colonial oppression. Her work serves as a beacon in a network of pathways for our people to make their way home.

Wendy Jocko

Algonquins of Pikwàkanagàn First Nation

A remarkable monument in Indigenous struggles with the Colonial Crown.

Dr. Veldon Coburn

Institute of Indigenous Research and Studies, University of Ottawa

We were so, so grateful to have you join us. You are a gifted speaker. I hope your travel home went well and I look forward to meeting again!

Lindsey Kirby-McGregor

Program Manager Indigenous Relations - Indigenous Relations Branch
City of Ottawa

Articles & Media

Persons Day: The Indigenous Famous Five Contingent



Muskrat Magazine

Greg Macdougall

What is Debwewin (Heart Knowledge)? Lynn Gehl's Claiming Anishinaabe


A follow-up to Claiming Anishinaabe, Gehl v Canada is the story of Lynn Gehl’s lifelong journey of survival against the nation-state’s constant genocidal assault against her existence. While Canada set up its colonial powers—including the Supreme Court, House of Commons, Senate Chamber, and...
Claiming Anishinaabe: Decolonizing the Human Spirit (2017)
Claiming Anishinaabe: Decolonizing the Human Spirit (2017)
Denied her Indigenous status, Lynn Gehl has been fighting her entire life to reclaim mino-pimadiziwin--the good life. Exploring Anishinaabeg philosophy and Anishinaabeg conceptions of truth, Gehl shows how she came to locate her spirit and decolonize her identity, thereby becoming, in her words,...
The Truth that Wampum Tells: My Debwewin on the Algonquin Land Claims Process (2014)
The Truth that Wampum Tells: My Debwewin on the Algonquin Land Claims Process (2014)
In commemoration of the 250th anniversary of the Treaty at Niagara, The Truth that Wampum Tells offers readers a first-ever insider analysis of the contemporary land claims and self-government process in Canada. Incorporating an analysis of traditional symbolic literacy known as wampum diplomacy,...
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Are you looking to hire Dr. Lynn Gehl for your event? Dr. Lynn Gehl Peterborough, Ontario is a dynamic and engaging speaker that offers audiences researched content paired with expertise and a dynamic speaking ability. Dr. Lynn Gehl is also a Canadian corporate consultant and coach and facilitates workshops and training sessions for a corporate audience. Dr. Lynn Gehl is an expert keynote presenter and speaks on wide variety of topics. Hiring a great speaker for your event is important and working with a thought leader like Dr. Lynn Gehl from Speakers Canada’s roster will engage audiences into the content of the presentation to bring awareness and a fresh perspective for their approach to their work and their lives. Book Dr. Lynn Gehl to educate, motivate and activate the audience through an interactive and entertaining presentation at corporate meetings and gatherings.

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