Call to Action #28

28. We Call upon law schools in Canada to require all law students to take a course in Aboriginal people and the law, which includes the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal-Crown relations. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency. conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism


This recommendation focuses on the importance of including Aboriginal law within the Canadian legal system. By recommending that it become mandatory for all law students to study Aboriginal people and their law. The recommendation provides specifications for the curriculum and starting points for what courses in this subject could look like. 


If there is going to be a change in the relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples in Canada, it will come from younger generations. There is a vast area of knowledge about law and history in our country that is being neglected, if the legal system is to change, become fair for all peoples, then future lawyers should have all the knowledge they can. In short it is not only will it aid in reconciliation but it would also benefit Canada’s justice system. Canada is a diverse country, lawyers practicing in Canada should have a diverse background in their studies of law to reflect that. Furthermore, it would allow aboriginal law and culture to be taken seriously.


The point of this recommendation is to allow for reconciliation between the justice system and Aboriginal peoples. Considering that at the moment the majority of those imprisoned or in court are Aboriginal people things would be less unequal and stupid if those within the legal system had a working knowledge of Aboriginal rights, law, treaties, relations and history.


There are a number of ways this recommendation could be implemented. It starts as simple as adding Aboriginal law classes into the curriculum – as mandatory courses. Universities could employ professors with knowledge of the laws within that area, have a seminar with different guest who can share the different views of aboriginal law depending on which region they are from, and different learning and skill based workshops in undergraduate studies and in graduate studies.


Further Reading:


This article written by a professor at UVic discusses what has been done in regards to recommendations 27 and 28 as well as what else can and should be done.


Though this article was released a few years before the release of the recommendations, it addresses what UBC has done in making the study of Aboriginal rights and treaties mandatory for their law students. Maybe the article and this case will demonstrate to other law schools and universities in Canada how easy it is to make these studies apart of the curriculum.


This blog post, discusses one professor’s syllabus for a course Indigenous Legal Traditions at Lakehead University.


Compiled by Arryn Benson

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