Cole Curnew was born and raised in Stephenville Crossing in Nujio’qonik (Bay St. George), Ktaqmkuk (Newfoundland). He is of Mi’kmaq and Franco-Terreneuvian descent and a proud member of Qalipu First Nation. His people are the Curnews of Stephenville Crossing, the Pearceys from St. John’s, and the Powers of Fox Cove-Mortier. Being the first in his family to obtain a university degree, Cole is incredibly grateful for the support of his First Nation and organisations like the Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador, which have made pursuing a higher education possible for him and many others from his community.
Cole has spent the last five years studying in Nova Scotia, graduating from St. Francis Xavier University in 2022 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, with a concentration in Ethics, Politics, Law; and another in Canadian Politics. His undergraduate studies centred around identity and nation-building, completing an honours thesis on the topic of Newfoundland nationalism and writing several papers examining developments in Indigenous self-government. During his time at StFX, Cole volunteered to support Treaty Day activities held in Antigonish and a panel on the Mi’kmaq livelihood fishery, amongst many other volunteer commitments within the community.
Cole currently lives in Kjipuktuk (Halifax), where he is completing his Juris Doctor degree at the Schulich School of Law and, a certificate in Aboriginal and Indigenous Law, and another in Criminal Justice. Cole has been involved with several Indigenous organisations since he was accepted into law school under the Indigenous Blacks & Mi’kmaq Initiative. He is currently the 2L Representative in the Dalhousie Indigenous Law Students’ Association and worked as a Governance Coordinator at the Union of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq (UNSM) this summer. His work at the UNSM was centred around capacity development for First Nations in Unama’ki (Cape Breton) and strengthening self-government in the area of matrimonial real property. This year, he will assist Schulich faculty in delivering the Aboriginal and Indigenous Law into Context Course as a co-facilitator.
Cole hopes to return to Newfoundland after law school and assist his own First Nation and others in strengthening their self-government. In his spare time, Cole volunteers with Pro Bono Dalhousie, where he currently coordinates the Halifax Regional Centre for Education’s Legal Education Program for high school students. He is also a Cadet Instructor Cadre Officer in the Canadian Armed Forces, serving in various roles across Atlantic Canada over the last four years.