Student Profile: Kinwa Bluesky (UBC Law PhD Candidate)

Kinwa’s research represents the culmination of many years of reflection on indigenous issues.


Kinwa Bluesky developed an affinity for the law early on. Clair Huxtable, the matriarch on the Cosby Show was a lawyer, and, at the age of eight, Kinwa decided that she wanted to be a lawyer like Clair. Forces closer to home have also shaped her legal interests. She is writing her PhD thesis under the supervision of Gordon Christie, Steve Wexler and John Burrows on how Indigenous law is expressed through the creation of art in Gitksan, Coast Salish and Anishinabe communities. It is a topic that resonates with Kinwa on a personal level. "I am an Anishinabe artist, " she explains, "as is everyone in my family. I learned about who I am and will become through our art."

Kinwa’s research project represents the culmination of many years of reflection on indigenous issues, first as an anthropology student at the University of British Columbia and then as a burgeoning legal scholar at the University of Victoria (LLB 2004, LLM 2006). Along the way, she has contributed to a number of different indigenous projects, including as a community liaison for the Environics Institute’s Urban Aboriginal People’s Study and as a research assistant with a consulting firm in New Zealand that specializes in Maori small business development. Currently, she is working with the Government/Non Profit Initiative to foster more meaningful collaboration between the provincial government and the non-profit sector.

When she completes her PhD, Kinwa would like to teach law in Canada and continue to research Indigenous legal theory and art. "I have learned to feel inspired by my work. I want to pursue my interests while digging deeper into how I can contribute to living a better life for myself, my family, my community and beyond." Considering her thesis topic, it should come as no surprise that she also derives inspiration from the Capilano Warrior House Post, installed in the Spring of 2012 at the west end of Allard Hall. She claims to get some of her most creative writing done in the graduate student lounge overlooking the House Post. "I love it. It makes me feel like an Indigenous superheroine."

Visit the graduate students website to learn more about UBC Law’s graduate degree programs.