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THE ADVOCATE V O L . 7 5 P A R T 1 J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 7 121 work with Professor Jackson on a prison justice project, another formative experience. Maria clerked and then completed her articles at Davis & Co. (now DLA Piper). She was called to the bar in January 1986. Early in her career she worked as an associate at Alexander Holburn Beaudin & Lang doing insurance defence work, and later as counsel for the Industrial Relations Council (now the Labour Board). In 1989 Maria joined Blakes and became a partner in 1993. Already exposed as a student to First Nations law, she was recruited by Blakes to work with Marvin Storrow, Q.C., who became a lifelong mentor and cherished friend. It was at Blakes that Maria first began working with First Nations, advancing Aboriginal title and rights cases in B.C. and across Canada. She was one of many counsel involved in a number of groundbreaking cases in the area that wound their way to the Supreme Court of Canada. Maria also had a thriving administrative and trade law practice, representing several commodity boards and producer associations within the agricultural sector. In January 2009, Maria moved her practice to join Mandell Pinder as a partner. She continued to focus on major cases and files that advanced First Nations rights and interests. By the time she was appointed to the bench, Maria had appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada on eight occasions. In 2008, Maria was appointed Queen’s Counsel. That same year she was awarded the inaugural CBABC Women Lawyers Forum Award for Excellence, which recognizes distinguished career achievements as well as outstanding contributions to women in the legal profession as an agent of change, leader and mentor. Although her days as a lawyer often started very early (7:00 a.m. volunteer board meetings were not uncommon) and ended very late (her colleagues sometimes received emails sent at 2:00 a.m.), Maria always made time to put her family first. Maria is the adoring and adored mother of Jonathan and Chiara. Of Jonathan, 21, currently working at Save-on-Foods and at Hot Topic, Maria says “he is the most kind-hearted, non-judgmental, fun-loving person I know. I admire his love for life. He is so easy going, so open minded, so filled with kindness.” Chiara, 18, has just completed her final year of high school, is a hostess at Milestones, and is working out what is next. “She is strong, compassionate and loyal—beautiful on the inside and out,” Maria says of her daughter. “She knows who she is and what is important to her— and she knows how to have fun. My kids have taught me a lot.” The family also includes Kerry, a rescue dog, part border collie, part Rottweiler (who once managed to lock herself in Maria’s office—hilarity


Jan Advocate 2017
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