Wilma Jacknife, BA, LLB, LLM, PhD


Wilma has spent her adult life working for First Nations in Alberta.  Born and raised on the Cold Lake First Nations reserve in east-central Alberta, Wilma comes from a Cree family who belong to the predominantly Dene community.

Upon completion of her law degree and call to the Alberta Bar, she returned to CLFN to work as In-House Legal Counsel, a position she held for 11 years.  During that time, in addition to the day-to-day issues confronted by most First Nations, she worked on various large economic and business development projects including settlement of the First Nation’s long outstanding land claim; designation of a parcel of reserve land for business and economic purposes and the development of the Casino Dene as its anchor tenant; negotiation and development of Impact Benefit Agreements with major resource operators in the Cold Lake region that resulted in economic and social development of community members; development of First Nation owned businesses including Primco Dene LLP, a company which presently employs up to 500 First Nations and Metis people in camp catering and related commercial enterprises in the Cold Lake area. 

Wilma is proud of the role she played in the economic and social revitalization of CLFN members in her home community.  Today, most members of the community are employed in either First Nation owned businesses or privately owned businesses operating on the reserve or in the Nations’ traditional territory.

Wilma has successfully defended her Doctor of Juridical Science on "Indigenous Justice Systems" at the University of Arizona.  She maintains a private law practise that focuses on developing institutional capacity for First Nations Governance.  Her dissertation addresses the creation and development of First Nations governance which includes legitimate and fully functioning justice and dispute resolution systems.

Her educational background includes:

  • Two (2) Bachelor of Arts Degrees from the University of Alberta; 
  • Bachelor of Laws Degree from the University of British Columbia (1994);
  • Master of Laws Degree from the University of Arizona (2006);
  • Doctorate of Juridical Science (SJD) Program in Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy, at the University of Arizona


Her awards include:

  • Aboriginal Role Models of Alberta, Justice Award, 2007;
  • The Tribal Chiefs Institute Recognition Award for Completion of a Masters Program in Law at the University of Arizona, November 2006;
  • Various Scholarships and Bursary awards for Post-secondary Studies