Brief Biographical Note of Justice Harry S. LaForme
Justice Harry S. LaForme is a Mississauga Indian and a member of the Mississaugas of New Credit First Nation located in southern Ontario. He was born and raised on his reserve where his mother and some of his family continue to reside and remain active in that First Nation's government.
He is especially proud of having his efforts recognized by his own Aboriginal people with such honours as: (i) the 1997 National Aboriginal Achievement Award in the area of Law & Justice; and (ii) Aboriginal elders have on three (3) occasions presented him with an Eagle Feather, symbolizing the virtues of honesty, integrity, and respect; the most recent being at his swearing in as a Judge of the Ontario Court of Appeal. He has many publications and articles on issues related to Aboriginal law and justice.
Justice LaForme graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School in 1977 and was called to the Ontario Bar in 1979. He articled with the law firm of Osler, Hoskin and Harcourt and joined that firm as an associate in the practice of corporate commercial law. After a brief time with Osler, Hoskin, he commenced his own practice specializing in Aboriginal law. In practice he litigated and focused on matters involving the Constitution and Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He has appeared before each level of Court and travelled extensively throughout Canada and represented Canadian Aboriginal interests in Geneva Switzerland, New Zealand, and British Parliament.
In 1989 Justice LaForme was appointed Commissioner of the Indian Commission of Ontario. In 1991 he was appointed as Chair of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal land claims. He taught the "Rights of Indigenous Peoples" law course at Osgoode Hall Law School for in 1992 and 1993.
In October 1989 to June 1990 Justice LaForme served as co-chair on the independent National Chiefs Task Force on Native Land Claims. In January 1994 he was appointed a judge of the Ontario Court of Justice (General Division), now the Superior Court of Justice, Ontario. At the time of his appointment he was one of only 3 Aboriginal judges ever appointed to this level of trial court in Canada. In November 2004 Justice LaForme was appointed to the Ontario Court of Appeal. He is the first Aboriginal person to be appointed to sit on any appellate court in the history of Canada.