Cree lawyer Donald Worme is famous as a lottery-winning philanthropist, but he’s made his mark on Canada beyond that, including gathering the documented history of Indian residential schools.
As commission counsel for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), Worme fought to have the churches and the Canadian government release millions of documents that support the oral history of residential school survivors.
“Without him … we wouldn’t have Volume One (of the Final Report, which exceeds 1,800 pages and is published in two books.) You would not have the true history,” said Mohawk lawyer Kimberly Murray, who was executive director of the TRC.
After winning $14.8 million in the Lotto 649 in 2013, Worme and his wife, lawyer Helen Semaganis, created a foundation for indigenous people in sports, education, arts and culture.
Worme graduated from the University of Saskatchewan College of Law in 1985 and in 2002 was appointed Queen’s Counsel. He was a founding member of the Indigenous Bar Association of Canada and received its Indigenous People’s Counsel designation in 2006; he is a member of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Tribunal and has contributed to public policy on indigenous and treaty rights and the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples
He represented Neil Stonechild’s mother at the 2004 inquiry into the Saulteaux youth’s freezing death, which implicated two Saskatoon police constables, and was a commission lawyer at the 2006 Ipperwash Inquiry into the 1995 death of Dudley George, an unarmed Ojibway land claim protester shot by an Ontario Provincial Police sniper.