Karen Snowshoe is a mixed-race, Indigenous lawyer, arbitrator, mediator, and educator. She is Tetlit-Gwich’in on her mother’s side and of Norwegian descent on her father’s side. Karen’s home community is Fort McPherson located on the Peel River in Canada’s Western Arctic. As a child, Karen spent summers in Fort McPherson where her grandmother and extended family taught her traditional harvesting skills, a respect for the land, and a respect for the knowledge and wisdom of her Elders. Karen’s family still actively harvests traditional foods (caribou, moose, fish, berries, etc.) and medicines throughout the Yukon and Northwest Territories. Karen is an intergenerational trauma survivor of the Indian Residential School System.
From 1990 to 1992, Karen was a Youth Advisor to the Canadian Negotiating Team at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. Karen was a critical force in advocating for the inclusion of social justice issues as part of environmental and developmental issues. From Rio, Karen went on to intern at the United Nations Center for Human Rights in Geneva, supporting the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Indigenous Rights. In 1993, Karen attended the United Nations World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna to assist in re-drafting the Universal Declaration on Human Rights to include Indigenous rights. Karen is a leader in providing trauma-informed and culturally sensitive investigations. As senior counsel with the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls (MMIWG), Karen built, trained, and led a national team of statement gatherers who conducted trauma-informed interviews across Canada.
Karen is a highly sought-after educator in trauma-informed practice. Her customized workshops on Indigenous Reconciliation and Trauma-Informed Practice have garnered widespread acclaim for inspiring participants to engage in reconciliation in a way that honours the humanity and dignity of all.
In 2018, Karen was elected as a Bencher (Governor) of the Law Society of British Columbia. Having served two terms, she brought a unique perspective to the governance of the Law Society. Karen is the first-Indigenous woman to be elected as a Bencher in the Law Society of British Columbia.
Karen has been a long-time resident on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and Sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations, today known as Vancouver. She also lived and worked in Canada’s North (the Yukon and the Northwest Territories) for 14 years. Karen is a proud Mama to three rescue pups.