Thompson Rivers University

Law students place in top three in writing competition

May 3, 2024

Two TRU Law students placed in the top three in the Sovereignty Symposium XXXI Chief Justice John B. Doolin Writing Competition in Oklahoma City recently. The symposium invites domestic and international university students to submit research papers to be considered for the annual writing competition prize (on any legal issue concerning Indigenous law).

The TRU students are: Steven Parker in the First Nations Governance and Economic Development course, and Rob Houle in the First Nations Business and Taxation course.

Steven Parker


  • Sara Moore, Harvard University (first)
  • Steven Parker, Thompson Rivers University (second)
  • Rob Houle, Thompson Rivers University (third)
  • Nina Privett, University of Central Oklahoma (honorable mention).

The symposium was founded by the Oklahoma Supreme Court — the highest court in the state — in 1988 to provide a forum in which ideas concerning common legal issues can be exchanged in a scholarly, non-adversarial environment. The symposium is scheduled for June 11 and 12 in Oklahoma City.

“The Sovereignty Symposium is known for being a premier American legal conference on tribal sovereignty and governance. Notably, my submission focused on a critical legal issue impacting the Inuit. I am thankful to have been awarded second place in this year’s writing competition because my success raises the Indigenous People of the Arctic and TRU’s profile among American scholars,” says Parker.

Rob Houle

Houle’s paper on Indians and the 49th Parallel brought him to the third-place win. Houle is from Swan River First Nation in Treaty No. 8, Alberta. He completed law school this spring and has previously held positions with various governments and organizations in Alberta.

Much of his research explores the role of treaty, Indigenous rights and their collision with Canadian law. He is married into Treaty No. 7 and is father to three children. Houle has relocated back to Edmonton, and will be joining Alberta Counsel in May.

“(I am) honoured to have been successful in my second submission to the Sovereignty Symposium. The symposium offers an important opportunity for scholars doing work on Indigenous issues to share their perspective and how the law affects Indigenous rights. To have my piece selected from a number of other submissions across North America reflects the quality of work that takes place at Thompson Rivers University,” he says.

Houle also took third place in 2023 at the symposium for the Doolin Prize, Legal Issues Concerning Native Law.

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