Signa Daum Shanks

Signa Daum Shanks
Associate Professor

BA (Hons) (Saskatchewan)
MA (Western)
LLB (Osgoode Hall)
LLM (Toronto)
PhD (Western)


Of the Ontario Bar, Indigenous Bar Association, Canadian Bar Association/Ontario Bar Assoc.

Dr. Signa Daum Shanks, from the prairies, is trained as both a lawyer and historian. She has worked for various Crown governments, a national law firm, a national Indigenous organization, and various universities.

Her research interests have included Indigenous governance and history, Canadian history, law and economics, game theory, legal history, and torts. She has taught at First Nations University of Canada, the University of Alberta, the University of Toronto, the University of Saskatchewan, Osgoode Hall Law School,  and now the University of Ottawa. At these locations, her courses have included Indigenous Studies, Canadian Studies, and Law lecture classes and seminars. She has published about various subjects, including the use of history as evidence, the slavery of Indigenous Peoples, learning about Indigenous methodology, insolvency law, the Canadian legal profession and its Indigenous members, and recent responses to the pandemic and First Nations communities. Her current projects include research on the future of federal insolvency laws and the duty to consult and accommodate, the constitutionalizing of sustainable development, and the role of imposed colonial boundaries on rural regions' political evolution. She also established a pop-up think tank regarding the criminal trial of Gerald Stanley, and this project created numerous media contributions, scholarly projects by academics from across the country, presentations to the legal community about injustice experienced by Indigenous victims in Canada, and interaction with Indigenous community members.

Dr. Daum Shanks is also active within the legal profession. A part of the Ontario Bar Association's Provincial Council since 2015, and a member of the Board of Directors since 2018, her work in the areas of professional updating, law firm issues and mentoring are of special importance to her. 

Some accolades have happened along the way. They  include receiving a Teaching Leadership Award from the University of Toronto Indigenous Students Association, the Audacity of Imagination Award from the Law Commission of Canada, a SSHRC doctoral fellowship during her PhD, York Research Leader Awards in both 2018 and 2021, the Scholarly Paper Award from the Canadian Association of Law Teachers in 2018, the University of Saskatchewan College of Arts Alumni Award in 2020, the Women Lawyers of Ontario President's Award in 2020, and numerous grants for her efforts in Indigenizing universities, In 2021, the Office of the Prime Minister selected her for the Supreme Court of Canada Appointment Advisory Panel as the representative for the Canadian Bar Association. In 2022, the federal Minister of Heritage appointed her to the Expert Advisory Group on Online Harm which made recommendations on future legislation pertaining to privacy, constitutional rights and internet regulation. In 2022, Dr. Daum Shanks was also chosen to present as an expert panelist on the topic of rural policing at the federal Mass Casualty Commission Inquiry in Nova Scotia.

She has been part of numerous Boards of Directors, including Anduyuan Inc., the Public Legal Education Association in Saskatchewan, Community Legal Services for Saskatoon's Inner City (CLASSIC), the Ontario Bar Association, and the Ontario Bar Association Foundation.