Leroy Little Bear

Little Bear was a founding member of the Native American Studies Department at the University of Lethbridge. He was chair of the department for 21 years. He went on to be the founding director of the Native American Program at Harvard University.

With expertise and training in law, Little Bear has made significant contributions in areas of First Nations constitutional rights, justice and self-determination. He played a significant role in Canada's constitutional changes. He advised the National Indian Brotherhood on the transfer of Canada’s founding legislation, the British North America Act, from British to Canadian authority. He continued to act as legal advisor. Little Bear was a member of the legal team working to negotiate the Constitution of Canada’s Section 35 from 1981–1987. Section 35 recognizes and enshrines Indigenous rights. Little Bear became the first Indigenous person cited in the Supreme Court of Canada.

A strong advocate for supporting Indigenous worldviews in education, especially through language. He sees understanding worldviews as key to the work of truth and reconciliation in Canada. He stated: “The best way of changing ways of thinking is to change ways of thought,” he told the audience. “Changing the language and thinking in a new language is the best way to accomplish this notion of renewal.”

Little Bear retired from the University of Lethbridge in 1997, but continues to be active in numerous areas.

An active researcher and writer, Little Bear has written numerous articles and books on topics such as self-governance, and the relationship between the Canadian federal government and First nations.

Little Bear is a member of the Indigenous Wisdom Advisory Panel, a panel sponsored by the Alberta government and works to bring Indigenous perspectives to environmental monitoring. For example, identifying and examining the impacts of the oil and gas industry on the land from an Indigenous worldview, as we as scientific perspective.