Spotlight on Truth and Reconciliation

The Federation is committed to fostering truth and reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples and supports meaningful responses to the Calls to Action issued by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. This Federation resource provides information on the initiatives of law schools and other stakeholders responding to the Calls to Action.


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University of Ottawa to Offer Certificate in Indigenous Law Program

To help revitalize Indigenous legal systems and provide a respectful welcome to Indigenous learners on an academic path in law, the University of Ottawa’s Civil Law Section has launched a new certificate program in Indigenous law. It is the first French-language Indigenous law program in Canada. This initiative is designed to increase knowledge, awareness and understanding of Indigenous laws and legal traditions and to encourage an enlightened dialogue about them within the justice system and legal practice. One of the goals of the one-year program is to increase access to legal education and professions for a greater number of Indigenous students, increasing access to justice for Indigenous peoples in the process.

It will offer Indigenous learners an introduction to the legal systems of different Indigenous peoples in Canada, and encourage a comparison with Quebec and Canadian state-derived systems in certain key areas of law. Those in the program will get to know the sources, foundations, principles and rules of Indigenous and state-derived law, including Quebec’s civil law regime.

In response to TRC Call to Action 50, Justice Canada is providing $596,565 over three years to the University of Ottawa for this initiative. (August 2022)

Law Society of Alberta Welcomes Indigenous Initiatives Counsel

The Law Society of Alberta has announced the appointment of Jessica Buffalo to the position of Indigenous Initiatives Counsel, with responsibility to help guide the law society’s work with Indigenous initiatives in Alberta’s legal community. She will help the Law Society advance the process of reconciliation within the justice system and the legal profession, provide support for Indigenous lawyers and students, and advance cultural competency development for all lawyers and within the Law Society . In her role, Jessica will work closely with the Law Society’s Indigenous Advisory Committee and members of the Education team, and will collaborate with key justice system stakeholders to advance work on Indigenous initiatives affecting the Alberta legal community and the public.

Jessica is a member of the Samson Cree Nation and received her Juris Doctor from the Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia in 2016. She was called to the Alberta bar in 2017. She is a frequent presenter at conferences across Canada, speaking about the Calgary Indigenous Court, restorative justice and the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in the Canadian justice system. Jessica is also a member of the Gladue Report Committee, the Safety for Indigenous Women in Urban Settings Committee, and is a founding member of the Indigenous Lawyers Forum. She has also been involved in developing and delivering education to the legal profession and the judiciary in Alberta on topics relating to cultural competency, the Calgary Indigenous Court, Gladue Report writing, restorative justice and access to justice. (July 2022)

University of Toronto Establishes Chair in Indigenous Law

The University of Toronto has announced the establishment of a new chair in Indigenous law, the result of a $2 nillion endowed gift from alumni Norman and Gay Loveland. This donation will be added to $1 million in faculty support to endow the new chair. “The Loveland’s commitment to Indigenous law students and Indigenous scholarship is inspiring,” said U of T Dean Jutta Brunnée. “The couple previously donated $1 million to endow financial aid bursaries for Indigenous law students. Their lifetime giving of $3 million amounts to one of the largest gifts designated to Indigenous law in Canada.” Dean Brunnée noted that the gift will accelerate the law faculty’s teaching and scholarship in Indigenous law. (March 2022)

Law Society of British Columbia Launches Mandatory Indigenous Intercultural Course

The Law Society of British Columbia has launched a mandatory Indigenous intercultural course for all lawyers in the province. All practising lawyers in BC have up to two years to complete the free online course, and they may claim up to six hours of continuing professional development credits. In December 2019, the governing board of law society Benchers approved the development of the course, and mandated this education as part of the Law Society’s commitment to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action 27. Development of the course was overseen by the Law Society’s Truth and Reconciliation Advisory Committee. The material has been organized into six online modules covering the colonization of British Columbia and Canada and the impact on Indigenous Nations and individuals. (February 2022)

University of Ottawa Establishes First French-language Indigenous Law Program

The University of Ottawa is launching Canada’s first French-language Indigenous law program which, the university says is an effort to “help revitalize Indigenous legal systems and provide a more respectful welcome to Indigenous learners on an academic path in law.” The program will be offered through the school’s Civil Law Section and will be available exclusively to Indigenous students. The one-year program comprises 30 academic units that focus on the sources, foundations, principles and rules of Indigenous and of state-derived law, including Quebec’s civil law regime. The program will begin in August 2022. (January 2022)


Windsor Law Names Senior Advisor on Indigenous Relations and Outreach

The University of Windsor has named Beverly Jacobs as senior advisor to the president on Indigenous relations and outreach for a two-year term. Prior to assuming this new position, she served as Windsor Law’s associate dean. She will pursue priorities to improve relationships with Indigenous people and guide the development of the new Indigenous space on campus. Her mandate also includes collaboration on the development of decision-making and consultation processes related to Indigenous matters and helping the university chart its path as it begins to take more comprehensive action towards Indigenization and decolonization.

Jacobs is a former president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada and was inducted as a member of the Order of Canada in 2018. (January 2022)

Chambre des notaires du Québec Commits to Process of Reconciliation

On the inaugural National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, the Chambre des notaires du Québec affirmed its commitment to reconciliation with the publication of a Declaration on Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. As a key initiative in their reconciliation process, the Chambre committed to begin Indigenous cultural competency training among its members in fall 2021. The training will help Quebec notaries better respond to the legal needs of Indigenous communities. The Chambre will also collaborate with universities to develop course content to educate future Quebec notaries about the history of Indigenous Peoples and the challenges they currently face. The Chambre has also been offering funds through its Fonds d’études notariales financial assistance program to document and revitalize Indigenous law and foster the coexistence of legal systems and traditions.For more information, consult the Chambre des notaires’ communiqué. (September 2021)

Law Society of British Columbia to Engage Indigenous Community in Regulation of Legal Profession

The Law Society of British Columbia has approved the creation of a Task Force on Indigenous Engagement in Regulatory Matters. The Task Force will be conducting a full review of the law society’s regulatory processes to ensure they improve engagement with Indigenous communities and better responds to their needs and those of other vulnerable groups. The review will focus on improving the law society’s complaints, adjudication and prosecution processes and access to justice for Indigenous and vulnerable communities.  Among its proposed activities, the Task Force will analyze how the current process to gather, assess, introduce and submit evidence in the disciplinary process affects Indigenous complainants and witnesses; consider and compare the differences that exist between Indigenous perspectives on conflict resolution and conventional law society approaches to investigation, discipline and adjudication processes; and identify ways to prevent and address members’ misconduct against Indigenous peoples. (September 2021)

Federation Creates Indigenous Advisory Council

The Federation is setting up an Indigenous Advisory Council (IAC) to provide guidance and advice on the Federation’s reconciliation work. As set out in its Terms of Reference the IAC will comprise Indigenous peoples representing different regions, cultures, age groups and gender identities. The IAC will guide and support the Federation’s efforts to build relationships with Indigenous stakeholders and support other Federation initiatives as needed, and will provide recommendations to Federation Council where appropriate. (September 2021)

Law Society of Manitoba Creates Indigenous Advisory Committee

In October 2020, the Law Society of Manitoba approved the creation of an Indigenous Advisory Committee to guide the law society in its ongoing response to the TRC’s Calls to Action. In December 2021, the Honourable Murray Sinclair was appointed chair of the Committee, and in July 2021, the LSM appointed Bencher Jessica Saunders vice chair and named eight additional members who between them represent urban, rural, and northern areas of Manitoba and a broad range of Indigenous and non-Indigenous perspectives. (July 2021)

Federation Approves TRC Advisory Committee Recommendations

In June 2020, the Council of the Federation voted to approve a series of recommendations from the Federation’s Truth and Reconciliation Advisory Committee that chart a path forward for the Federation on its journey towards reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. The recommendations are set out in a report from the Advisory Committee. The Federation also adopted, in December 2020, a public statement of commitment to reconciliation that includes a set of guiding principles intended to inform all of the Federation’s work. (December 2020)

New National Centre for Indigenous Laws at UVic

The University of Victoria (UVic) has announced plans for the expansion of its law school to house Canada’s new National Centre for Indigenous Laws. The federal and BC governments and the Law Foundation of BC are contributing $27.1 million to fund the expansion. The national centre will be home to the first Indigenous law program in the world to combine the intensive study of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous law.

University president Jamie Cassels said the Indigenous law school will be essential in reworking the legal fabric of Canada. “The research and teaching that will occur at the centre will have a transformational impact on individuals and communities across Canada, and indeed, around the world,” he said at a news conference on Thursday. “It will play a vital role in helping to grow a more just and inclusive Canada.” (September 2020)

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