Lorena Fontaine

Master of Arts in Indigenous Governance

Lorena Fontaine

Lorena Fontaine, PhD - Associate professor

Lorena Sekwan Fontaine (BA, LL.B., LL.M., Ph.D) is Cree-Anishinabe and a member of the Sagkeeng First Nation in Manitoba, Canada. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Indigenous Studies. Her research includes Indigenous language rights, linguicide and the legacy of the residential schools.  


Previously, Dr. Fontaine has taught for the First Nations University of Canada and the School of Public Policy Graduate Program at Queens University. She has spoken nationally and internationally on residential school issues and Indigenous language rights in Canada and has authored articles on these topics. Her PhD research was presented in a CBC documentary entitled “Undoing Linguicide,” which was awarded the 2017 Radio Television Digital News Association Adrienne Clarkson Award for Diversity (Radio). Her most recent research includes Nindibaajimomin: A Digital Storytelling Project for Children of Residential School Survivors, and most recently, the Mite Achimowin (Heart Talk) Research Project, which uses oral history and arts-based research approaches to explore culturally-rooted knowledge concerning oppressive mechanisms influencing the caring for one’s heart among First Nations women. She has also worked with the Assembly of First Nations as an advisor on Aboriginal languages for a number of years.


Since 2003, Dr. Fontaine has been an advocate for Indigenous Residential School Survivors as well as their descendants. She was a task force member and contributor to the Assembly of First Nations’ Report on Canada's Dispute Resolution Plan to compensate for abuses in Indian Residential Schools. Dr. Fontaine also acted as a legal consultant to the Toronto law firm Thomson Rogers in a National Class Action on Indigenous Residential Schools.


Dr. Fontaine was an Equality Rights Panel Member of the Court Challenges Program, a National Steering Committee Member for the National Association of Women and the Law and has been involved with the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund as a board member and subcommittee member.




Fontaine, L. (forthcoming). Our Languages are Sacred: Finding Constitutional Space for Aboriginal Language Rights to Education. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press. 


Fontaine, L., et al. (2019). Listening to First Nations women’ expressions of heart health: Mite achimowin digital storytelling study. International Journal of Circumpolar Health, 78(1),  1630233, DOI: 10.1080/22423982.2019.1630233 

Fontaine, L. (2019). Our Languages Are Sacred: Indigenous Language Rights in Canada. In J Borrows et al. (Eds.), Braiding Legal Orders: Implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (pp. 93-100). Waterloo, ON: Centre for International Governance Innovation.


Fontaine, L. (2017). Redress of Linguicide: Residential Schools and Assimilation in Canada. British Journal of Canadian Studies, 30(2), DOI:


Fontaine, L. (2017). Where Do Indigenous Languages Fit Into Canada’s National Identity? Centre for International Governance Innovation. Retrieved from:


Fontaine, L. & Pitawankwat, B. (2016). Intergenerational Legacies of Loss and Revitalization: Cree and Ojibway Languages in Canada. In D. Day, P. Rewi, & R. Higgins (Eds.), The Journeys of Besieged Languages (pp. 16-33). Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars. 


Fontaine, L. (2015). Reflection on Post-Residential School Settlement Agreement: Expressions of Reconciliation: Looking Back Forward Looking. In K. Burnett & G. Read (Eds.), Aboriginal History: A Reader (pp. 263-274). Second Edition. Don Mills: Oxford University Press. 


Fontaine, L. et al. (2014). Authentic Conversations Among, Daughter of Residential School Survivors. In S. Rogers et al. (Eds.), Reconciliation and The Way Forward (pp. 179-208). Ottawa: Aboriginal Healing Foundation. 


Fontaine, L. et al. (2014). Nimamasak: The Legacy of First nations Women Honouring Mothers and Motherhood. In D. M. Lavell-Harvard & K. Anderson (Eds.) Mothers of the Nations: Indigenous Mothering as Global Resistance, Reclaiming and Recovery (pp. 251-266). Toronto: Demeter Press. 


Fontaine, L. (2012). Reflections on the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement: From Court Cases to Truth and Reconciliation. In K. Burnett & G. Read (Eds.), Aboriginal History: A Reader (pp. 239-248). Don Mills: Oxford University Press.