Janice Makokis

Janice Makokis

Edmonton, Alberta
Indigenous Rights Advocate | Legal Scholar | Consultant
Janice Makokis is an Indigenous Legal Rights Scholar, Advocate and Consultant. Janice Makokis currently holds a joint position between the Yellowhead Tribal Council and the Faculty of Extension (University of Alberta) as an Indigenous Relations/Policy Advisor/Faculty Instructor and works to develop curriculum/programming within the Faculty’s Indigenous programs. Janice Makokis currently works at Onion Lake Cree Nation as an advisor and teaches Indigenous studies, Indigenous Law and governance courses.
  • Diversity & Inclusion
  • Leadership
  • Resilience & Adversity
  • Awareness Days
  • Campus & University Speakers
  • Career Development
  • Community Engagement Events
  • Conference
  • Corporations & Businesses
  • Education & Teachers
  • Environment & Climate Change


Janice Makokis is a dynamic nehiyaw iskwew (Cree woman) who is making waves in the world of Indigenous legal scholarship and advocacy. She was born and raised in Saddle Lake Cree Nation in Treaty 6 territory, Alberta, Canada and comes from a family of residential school survivors. As a result, Janice is driven by a deep commitment to addressing the intergenerational trauma caused by residential schools and works daily to create a better future for her community and her son, Atayoh Kan Asiniy (Spirit Rock) Makokis. Through her work, Janice Makokis assists both Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in breaking down stereotypes and identifying colonial systems of the past and present that have shaped the outcomes for First Nation communities. She has dedicated her career and her life to her people and focuses on educating others on the truth of our history, to guide us all toward Reconciliation.

Being an Indigenous woman from a segregated and marginalized community in Northern Alberta, Janice Makokis faced many challenges in and outside of her youth, education, and career. Her brother, Dr James Makokis, who was often bullied as a youth due to his identifying as Two-Spirit, led to Janice also experiencing challenges within and outside of her peer groups. Once Janice went on to pursue her education, she was able to identify rampant discrimination based on race and gender. It was during her education that she and her brother James decided to utilize their struggles and challenge themselves to create and change outcomes for her people. Janice Makokis is a gifted educator and legal scholar, who was appointed the Ianni Legal Scholar in 2021 at Windsor Law School, where she teaches courses on First Nation Women and the Law and Indigenous Laws and Legal Orders. She is also a sessional faculty member at the University of Alberta, Yellowhead Tribal College, and the University nuhelot’įne thaiyots’į nistameyimâkanak Blue Quills. Janice’s work on climate justice issues as part of the University of Alberta’s “Just Powers” research project, highlights her commitment to creating positive change.

Janice’s educational background and professional experience are truly impressive. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Native Studies (with a minor in Political Science) from the University of Alberta, a Master of Arts in Indigenous Governance from the University of Victoria, and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Ottawa. In addition to her academic and professional pursuits, Janice Makokis is a dedicated community member and cultural keeper. She has spent the past 15 years learning about Ncehiyaw (Cree) ways of being and the Indigenous laws from Elders and Indigenous knowledge keepers. She regularly participates in activities/education initiatives within her community while adopting her cultural beliefs and family systems to pass them down to her son. She believes that through cultural teachings, we can reshape our connection with ourselves, our relationships, and our planet.

Janice Makokis is currently working at the Onion Lake Cree Nation and is focused on Indigenous laws and legal orders. Indigenous laws and legal orders are the original laws of the land and were in existence prior to the imposition of western colonial laws and legal systems. The imposition of these laws has had a significant impact on Indigenous Peoples and Nations and has disrupted their governance structures. Janice Makokis is working towards reducing the number of Indigenous people who encounter the criminal justice system and reducing the number of Indigenous children in care. The governance of Onion Lake Cree Nation is unique, as all important Chief and Council decisions are vetted through their Elders Council. This idea of governance arose from concerns about high numbers of Onion Lake members and children meeting the court system. Janice plays an active role in providing strategic insights for the decisions made by the Elders Council is following the Creator’s laws, human laws, and laws in songs, ceremonies, and sacred sites, and working from a place of kindness.

Janice Makokis is also a co-producer of the film “Awasisak Our Future,” which tells the story of a group of treaty walkers and the importance of treaties for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. She serves as a board advisor for the Yellowhead Institute, an Indigenous-led research and education center in Toronto. Janice is a passionate advocate for Indigenous rights and self-determination. Throughout her career, she has been a rapporteur at international meetings and has served as the co-chair/co-coordinator on the North American Indigenous Peoples Caucus (NAIPC) from 2013-2016. She is dedicated to advancing the discourse on Indigenous People’s rights and is a strong voice in the fight for decolonization initiatives and cultural resurgence and revitalization efforts.

Janice Makokis continues to be involved in international and national Indigenous advocacy work through various international bodies and United Nations mechanisms to advance the discourse on Indigenous Peoples’ rights. She served as the co-chair/co-coordinator of the North American Indigenous Peoples Caucus (NAIPC) from 2013-2016—a voluntary Indigenous body that makes recommendations to the agenda items to be addressed by the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. She also played a major role in the Idle No More movement and has followed in her mother’s footsteps in connecting with Canadian Indigenous and non-Indigenous allies to support local and national movements to bring awareness to First Nation issues. Janice Makokis is a trailblazer and advocate for Indigenous rights who inspires us all. Her deep commitment to her community, culture, and family, her impressive academic and professional background, and her unwavering dedication to social justice, make her a true leader in the world of Indigenous legal scholarship and advocacy.




Idle No More


National Day of Action, 'Unsettling Canada 150'

Janice Makokis Topic Presentations

truth and reconciliation and you

  • Virtual PresentationKeynote PresentationWorkshop SessionHalf Day TrainingFull Day Training
  • How does your organization adjust its policies and approaches to engender genuine partnerships with the Indigenous population? How can you continue to expand the TRC for years to come? Janice Makokis will customize her presentation to meet your specific needs and organizational goals. She will assess your initiatives, identify your responsibilities, and bridge the gap of understanding to enable you to spring to action for the Reconciliation of Indigenous peoples in Canada. Truth First. The Truth is important and learning the Truth is the first step toward reconciliation. Janice’s life work and presentations will leave your group with new understandings, perspectives, and commitments towards the advancement of First Nations peoples today and in the future.

    Janice Makokis takes us on a history lesson to understand the impacts of colonialism and the impacts that still live today. She brings awareness to the 94 TRC Calls to Action as a blueprint to commence the restoration for First Nation communities and Indigenous peoples on Turtle Island. Janice Makokis will use her experience as a lawyer and during her consulting for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to research your needs and create an action plan for success by creating allies that are educated and knowledgeable to be able to support Indigenous peoples towards reconciliation. Janice Makokis helps bridge the gap of understanding and inspires your group to take concrete steps towards genuine partnerships with the Indigenous population and expanding the TRC for years to come. We all have a role – individuals, professions, public servants and corporations. We all have a responsibility.

discovering the power of indigenous laws and legal orders - a path to reconciliation

  • Virtual PresentationKeynote PresentationWorkshop SessionHalf Day TrainingFull Day Training
  • Indigenous laws and legal orders hold a significant place in the history of the land now known as Canada, but their transmission and governance have been disrupted by the imposition of colonial laws and policies. Despite this, these laws remain a crucial part of maintaining peace and order within Indigenous societies. With discussions about Indigenous legal orders gaining more attention in law schools, legal practices, and the courts, it’s crucial to understand the difference between Indigenous laws and “Aboriginal Law”.

    Join Janice Makokis as she guides you on a journey to uncover the unique governance structure of First Nation communities and the role that Indigenous laws play in creating a just society. With the support of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and the endorsement of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, it’s time to explore alternative Indigenous processes and work toward a future of reconciliation.

breaking barriers - a journey to equity, diversity & inclusion

  • Virtual PresentationKeynote PresentationWorkshop SessionHalf Day TrainingFull Day Training
  • Janice Makokis is a powerful advocate for diversity and inclusion. With her unique background and experiences, she brings a dynamic perspective to the important issue of discrimination based on race, gender, and disability. Janice believes that we are all created equally and that it’s time for society to reflect that in our policies, practices, and attitudes. Through her engaging presentations, she inspires audiences to break down stereotypes, understand their own unconscious biases, and work together to create a more inclusive world.

    Janice Makokis is driven by her own experiences of discrimination, both growing up as an Indigenous person and facing bias in her academic and professional careers. She has witnessed the effects of “smiling racism” and “silenced racism” in Canada and understands the deep harm that these forms of discrimination can cause. Janice is passionate about using her platform to raise awareness and inspire action. With her extensive knowledge of the experiences of Indigenous peoples and other people of colour, she brings a nuanced understanding to the challenge of achieving diversity and inclusion in our society.

    Janice Makokis draws on her own journey and her brother’s experience as a Two-Spirit person to emphasize the importance of respect and understanding for different cultures and identities. She also draws attention to the role of media and power structures in reinforcing negative stereotypes and discriminatory attitudes. Janice’s message of hope and determination is a call to action for all of us to work together to create a more inclusive, equitable world. By inspiring individuals and organizations to reflect on their biases and assumptions, she empowers them to take concrete steps toward creating real change through inclusive attitudes, actions and behaviours.

bridging history - an exploration of colonialism and its effects on indigenous peoples and western society

  • Virtual PresentationKeynote PresentationWorkshop SessionHalf Day TrainingFull Day Training
  • Join Janice Makokis as she delves into the complex history of colonialism and its impact on Indigenous peoples. With a focus on Indigenous awareness, she will provide a comprehensive overview of the Indian Act, the terminology used to describe Indigenous peoples, and the migration diaspora they have experienced.

    Janice Makokis will break down myths and stereotypes created by colonialist systems and provide an in-depth explanation of the significance of using respectful and accurate terminology when referring to Indigenous peoples. This is an important aspect of reconciliation as it acknowledges the diverse cultures and identities of Indigenous peoples and promotes a deeper understanding of their experiences. By challenging harmful stereotypes and promoting the use of appropriate language, Janice will empower attendees to become allies in the ongoing journey towards healing and reconciliation.

    Janice Makokis will highlight the rich history and cultural heritage of the diverse Indigenous tribes on Turtle Island. With her passion for bridging the divide between Western and Indigenous peoples, she will provide a thought-provoking and inspiring look at the challenges faced by Indigenous communities and the ongoing struggle for reconciliation. This powerful presentation will deepen your understanding and provide a fresh perspective on the ongoing impact of colonialism.

breaking the chains of colonialism - embracing indigenous-centered justice through restorative practices

  • Virtual PresentationKeynote PresentationWorkshop SessionHalf Day TrainingFull Day Training
  • For too long, Indigenous peoples have been subjected to a colonial justice system that has failed to address the root causes of crime and has instead perpetuated a cycle of trauma and harm. It’s time to break free from this outdated framework and embrace an Indigenous-cantered approach to justice that is based on restorative principles and practices.

    Restorative justice is a system of justice that focuses on repairing harm and restoring relationships between individuals and communities. This approach prioritizes rehabilitation and reconciliation and offers a more holistic approach to resolving conflict and addressing the root causes of crime. When applied within an Indigenous-cantered framework, restorative justice can be a powerful tool for promoting healing and reconciliation, and for breaking the cycle of harm and trauma that has been perpetuated by the colonial justice system.

    Janice Makokis is a leading voice in the movement towards Indigenous-cantered justice and restorative practices. With her extensive knowledge and experience, she will explore the ways in which restorative justice can be used to empower Indigenous peoples and communities, and to help break the chains of colonialism that have held Indigenous peoples captive for far too long. Janice Makokis brings attention to the roles and responsibilities non-Indigenous peoples have to help break colonial framework and become an ally. Through her inspiring insights and practical examples, she will show how restorative justice can help us to build a more just and equitable society, where Indigenous peoples can thrive and be valued for who they are.

creators law - revitalizing indigenous law for empowered and healed indigenous communities

  • Virtual PresentationKeynote PresentationWorkshop SessionHalf Day TrainingFull Day Training
  • Janice Makokis is a powerful voice for Indigenous peoples who are suffering the devastating impact of colonialism and western laws on First Nation families and communities. As an advocate for Indigenous rights and sovereignty, Janice believes that returning to our traditional ways of resolving disputes can bring balance and healing to Indigenous peoples.

    The issue of torn families and the destructive impact on communities has been at the forefront of Janice’s advocacy work. She firmly believes that returning to Cree ways of resolving disputes and practicing Indigenous laws is the key to restoring balance and healing to Indigenous peoples, families, and communities.

    In this powerful presentation, Janice Makokis will delve into the historical context of Treaty making and the promises made to Indigenous peoples by the Crown, and the impact of the Indian Act on communities. She will also explore the existing colonial structures still in place and the importance of prioritizing Indigenous law and governance as a means of revitalizing Indigenous knowledge and healing our peoples, families, and communities.

    To make this vision a reality, Janice Makokis provides insights into how different communities require different strategies and how to apply for funding, resources, and support from different groups. There is still much work to be done in this area, particularly in reducing the number of Indigenous people who encounter the criminal justice system and the number of Indigenous children in care in the child welfare system. By prioritizing Indigenous knowledge and privileging Indigenous laws and governance, Janice is confident that Indigenous communities will become empowered and healed.

building a bridge - relationships and alliances between western and indigenous peoples

  • Virtual PresentationKeynote PresentationWorkshop SessionHalf Day TrainingFull Day Training
  • This presentation focuses on the importance of increasing understanding of Indigenous history, social systems and family structures to create meaningful connections and alliances between Western and Indigenous peoples. In this powerful presentation, Janice Makokis will discuss the importance of initiating conversations, and promoting constructive dialogue as a means of building relationships and partnerships.

    Janice Makokis will explore the challenges that exist in bringing these two groups together and will offer insights and strategies for overcoming them. Janice will also share her own experiences and the lessons she has learned about the value of open communication and collaboration in creating meaningful connections. She also shares insights on the responsibilities Westerners have to educate themselves and each other on the truth of the past, the history of colonialism and Indigenous values.

    Whether you are a leader in business, government, or the community, or simply someone looking to better understand the Indigenous perspective, this presentation is a must-see for anyone interested in fostering positive and productive relationships between Western and Indigenous peoples.

indigenous roots, stronger families - embracing traditional parenting for community restoration

  • Virtual PresentationKeynote PresentationWorkshop SessionHalf Day TrainingFull Day Training
  • Indigenous parenting is rooted in cultural values and traditions that have been passed down for generations. These values emphasize the importance of community, intergenerational relationships, and a deep connection to the land. Indigenous families have a unique role to play in the restoration and preservation of their communities.

    However, colonialism has disrupted these traditional family structures and practices. The impact of residential schools forced removal of children, and cultural assimilation policies has had a lasting impact on Indigenous families and communities. Today, many Indigenous people struggle with trauma, addiction, and the loss of cultural identity.

    In this presentation, Janice Makokis will explore the importance of Indigenous parenting and the role families play in restoring and preserving their communities. She will discuss traditional family structures, parenting from an Indigenous perspective, and the responsibilities families have within the community. With a focus on restorative justice, Janice Makokis will also address the importance of breaking the colonial framework to reclaim and celebrate Indigenous family practices.

    Join Janice Makokis as she inspires and empowers Indigenous families to embrace their roots and strengthen their communities through traditional parenting practices.

building community - a guide to transformative, ethical and community-driven leadership

  • Virtual PresentationKeynote PresentationWorkshop SessionHalf Day TrainingFull Day Training
  • Janice Makokis delivers a powerful and inspiring presentation to First Nation leaders and communities on the essential themes of servant leadership, people-first leadership, community-based leadership, transformative leadership, ethical values, community re-invention, and how to apply them for governance.

    Janice will equip you with the knowledge and tools you need to navigate the unique leadership challenges faced by First Nation leaders, empowering you to create a leadership style that prioritizes people, ethics, and community transformation. From the principles of servant leadership to the transformative potential of community-based leadership, Janice will inspire you to lead with purpose and bring about positive change for your community to create new systems, process and re-invent the approach to managing challenges.

    With her deep understanding of ethical values and their importance in leadership, Janice Makokis will guide you on your journey to align your leadership style with the traditions and values of your Nation. Get ready to embark on a journey of transformation and community re-invention, Janice works with you to understand the unique challenges your community faces and teaches the practical skills on how to implement the solutions that will change the outcomes surround the issues as a servant to the community.

indigenous sovereignty - a path to success

  • Virtual PresentationKeynote PresentationWorkshop SessionHalf Day TrainingFull Day Training
  • For too long, Indigenous people in Canada have been limited by restrictive government policies and broken promises. They’ve been left without a path for success, due to the Indian Act, residential schools, colonialism, and systematic oppression. But despite these challenges, Indigenous communities can and will succeed.

    That’s where Janice comes in. Through her work consulting with First Nation communities and a wide variety of Indigenous groups, Janice has developed a “ready-to-use” strategic approach for each nation’s success. She’ll use her legal background to dive into the governing bodies and systems and present clear, pragmatic examples of what we can do now, both in the short and long-term, to empower Indigenous sovereignty and ensure their success.

    You’ll hear about models of economic and social development on First Nations that have worked, all without government support or intervention. And you’ll learn how colonial-style thinking must be replaced with a new, respectful language and modern approach to support the success of each nation.

    This is not just a matter of justice, but also one of economic growth and prosperity for all Canadians. So join us today to hear about Janice’s inspiring and practical approach to empowering Indigenous sovereignty and securing a brighter future for Indigenous people.

breaking the cycle of violence against indigenous women - the intersection of indigenous rights and women's rights

  • Virtual PresentationKeynote PresentationWorkshop SessionHalf Day TrainingFull Day Training
  • Indigenous women and girls are the backbone of First Nation communities but have been oppressed and marginalized since the arrival of European colonizers. Patriarchy, misogyny, and racism have diminished their traditional roles as decision-makers, knowledge-keepers, and life-givers. The impact of colonization and patriarchal governance has resulted in high rates of violence against Indigenous women, including the staggering numbers of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG) and the Highway of Tears.

    Janice Makokis brings attention to the intersection of Indigenous rights and women’s rights, addressing the layers of colonialism and oppression that directly and indirectly affect Indigenous women. She sheds light on the urgency to restore access and justice for Indigenous women, so that they can have a voice and contribute to the success of themselves and their children within and outside of their communities. Janice advocates for a collective approach to breaking the barriers created through colonial systems of oppression, which affect the lives of every single Canadian.

    Join Janice as she shares her journey, knowledge and experiences to empower and inspire Indigenous women to rise above the challenges and reclaim their rightful place in society. Together, we can work towards a future where Indigenous women are honoured, respected, and valued for the contributions women bring to their communities, and to the world.

empowering teachers for indigenous students - a journey with janice makokis

  • Virtual PresentationKeynote PresentationWorkshop SessionHalf Day TrainingFull Day Training
  • In this motivational and interactive presentation, we will explore the role that education plays in transforming Indigenous lives and the outcomes of First Nations communities. We will follow the journey of successful Indigenous lawyer and scholar, Janice Makokis, who will share her personal story of overcoming adversity and maintaining her Indigenous values, beliefs, and culture while pursuing education.

    Janice, along with her mother Dr. Patricia Makokis, has made a significant impact on the University of Alberta’s Indigenous studies program and is a strong advocate for post-secondary education for First Nations students. She will share her insights on how the white community can better serve First Nations through education and the impact of post-secondary education for Indigenous youth.

    This talk will provide a unique perspective on the challenges faced by Indigenous students and the importance of empowering Indigenous youth through education. The audience will leave with a deeper understanding and appreciation of the perspectives of Indigenous people and be empowered to take action and contribute to their success. Join us on this inspiring journey and learn how education can be a powerful tool for change and make an impact for Indigenous students.

the next generation - navigating identity, culture, and community

  • Virtual PresentationKeynote PresentationWorkshop SessionHalf Day TrainingFull Day Training
  • Join Janice Makokis as she shares her journey and the important lessons she’s learned along the way, and how they can help today’s youth become successful leaders. With a focus on the importance of education and the role it plays in shaping future leaders, she will talk about the crucial role that resilience plays in overcoming obstacles and persevering towards success.

    Janice will delve into the significance of youth leadership and the responsibilities that young people have in shaping the future of their communities. She will also explore the connection between identity, culture, and community, and how it influences and inspires the next generation to make a positive impact.

    Whether you are a student, teacher, or parent, this inspiring talk on empowering the next generation to navigate the challenges of life and become successful leaders brings insights into the barriers Indigenous youth face, along with the unique outcomes that can be implemented for the future.

janice makokis' customized presentation topics

  • Virtual PresentationKeynote PresentationWorkshop SessionHalf Day TrainingFull Day Training
  • Janice is an articulate presenter for/on Indigenous Peoples of Canada. She knows the law and she is an expert in What needs to be done to improve the relations between the white population, The current conditions on Reserves and Metis Settlements, The Truth and Reconciliation Commission proceedings and outcomes, The “Idle No More” movement, Canadian Imperialism: Indigenous Resistance Through IdleNoMore, What needs to be done by both Indigenous Peoples and the white population to help Indigenous People succeed in Canada., Indigenous Understanding of Treaties, Treaties, Indigenous Laws and Legal Orders in Alberta’s  Natural Resource Management, Indigenous Laws and Legal Orders:  An Indigenous Understanding of the Land, Water and Environment, Indigenous laws, lands and current Industry-Government Relations, International Law and Indigenous Peoples, The Role of the Canadian State: Forcibly Imposing Western Education on First Nations, Elimination for Racial Discrimination, Human Rights in the Workplace, Organizational Culture and Negotiation Preparedness, Canada’s Plan to Implement a First Nations Education Act


Thanks, Alberta lawyer Janice Makokis for testifying in Ottawa on idle no more

Linda Duncan

National Democratic Party of Canada

Such an inspirational presentation by the incredible idle no more leader Janice Makokis speaking on feminist advocacy and leadership. She has taught me what I can do today, to change myself, my friends, my colleagues and Canadian culture. Thank you for your wisdom, advice and educational FACTS.

Rick Thorson

Montana Medical Doctor

Articles & Media

3 Indigenous women challenge Alberta's mandatory oath to King amid lawsuit


Three Indigenous women aspiring to become lawyers in Alberta are challenging the King's Oath, because they say swearing an oath to the monarchy is modern colonialism. Janice Makokis, Rachel Snow and Anita Cardinal, who graduated from law school in 2010, 2013 and 2022 respectively, are unable to...

Alberta’s mandatory oath of allegiance is systemic discrimination

National Magazine

In September 2022, Anita Cardinal, Rachel Snow and Janice Makokis started a second lawsuit challenging the oath of allegiance. All three plaintiffs are Indigenous. Cardinal and Makokis are nêhiyaw (Cree) women from Nations in Treaty 8 and Treaty 6 territory. Snow is an Iyârhé Nakoda woman from...

Alberta faces pressure to drop requirement that lawyers swear oath to king

The Globe and Mail

Aspiring lawyers Anita Cardinal, Rachel Snow and Janice Makokis filed another lawsuit last September. The woman, who each represent one of the three treaties in the province, allege the oath requirement breaches their treaty rights and the Charter protections for freedom of conscience and...

Decolonizing Christmas: family scraps holiday for Indigenous ceremony


It's been 20 years since Janice Makokis of Edmonton and her family have celebrated the Christmas season. There isn't a Christmas decoration to be found or carols playing in her home. In fact, Makokis's three-year-old son Atayoh hardly knows what Christmas is, albeit for the crafts and Rudolph...


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