Karen Drake


  • kdrake@jfklaw.ca
  • Suite 1100, 65 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON M5H 2M5

Karen Drake is a member of the Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation, Counsel at JFK Law’s Toronto office, and an Associate Professor at Osgoode Hall Law School. Her focus is on helping Indigenous nations exercise their inherent rights through the implementation of their Indigenous laws, and on using Aboriginal and Treaty rights to advance Indigenous self-determination.

Karen has experience working with elders to support First Nations in renewing and revitalizing their traditional legal orders. She is committed to furthering her knowledge of Anishinaabe law and constitutionalism, for example, by working toward learning Anishinaabemowin. Her focus also includes the application of Aboriginal and Treaty Rights within Canadian law, the duty to consult and accommodate, and Indigenous dispute resolution.

After articling in Toronto with a leading Canadian law firm, Karen completed a clerkship with the Ontario Court of Appeal and subsequently served as a part-time judicial law clerk with the Federal Court. She previously served as a Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, on the Board of Directors of the Indigenous Bar Association, and on the Board of Directors of the Human Rights Legal Support Centre. Karen currently volunteers as a member of the legal advisory panel for RAVEN and as a member of the Policy and Stakeholder Relations Committee for Covenant House Toronto. As a full-time faculty member at Osgoode Hall Law School, Karen teaches courses on Indigenous Peoples and Canadian Law, Indigenous Legal Traditions, Property Law, and Legal Process; she has also served as Co-Director of the Osgoode Mediation Clinic.


University of Toronto, LL.M.

University of Toronto, J.D.

Queen’s University, M.A. (Philosophy)

Lakehead University, B.A. (Hons) (Philosophy)

Selected Publications

Karen Drake, “Indigenous Constitutionalism and Dispute Resolution Outside the Courts: An Invitation” 48:4 (2020) Federal Law Review 570: https://digitalcommons.osgoode.yorku.ca/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3812&context=scholarly_works

Karen Drake, “A Right Without a Rights-Holder Is Hollow: Introduction to OHLJ’s Special Issue on Identifying Rights-Bearing Aboriginal Peoples” (2020) 57 Osgoode Hall Law Journal iii: https://digitalcommons.osgoode.yorku.ca/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3615&context=ohlj

Karen Drake, “Indigenous Oral Traditions in Court: Hearsay or Foreign Law?” in Brenda Gunn & Karen Drake, eds, Renewing Relationships: Indigenous Peoples and Canada (Saskatchewan: Native Law Centre, 2019): https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3397257

Aaron Mills, Karen Drake & Tanya Muthusamipillai, “An Anishinaabe Constitutional Order” in The Honourable Justice Patrick Smith, ed, Reconciliation in Canadian Courts: A Guide for Judges to Aboriginal and Indigenous Law, Context and Practice (Ottawa: National Judicial Institute, 2017) 260: https://digitalcommons.osgoode.yorku.ca/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3694&context=scholarly_works

Karen Drake, “The Impact of St Catharine’s Milling” in Law Society of Upper Canada, ed, Special Lectures 2017: Canada at 150: The Charter and the Constitution (Toronto: Irwin Law and the Law Society of Upper Canada, 2017): https://digitalcommons.osgoode.yorku.ca/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3684&context=scholarly_works

Karen Drake, “The Trials and Tribulations of Ontario’s Mining Act: The Duty to Consult and Anishinaabek Law” (2015) 11:2 McGill International Journal of Sustainable Development Law and Policy 183: https://www.mjsdl.com/annualreview



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