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Indigenous Blacks & Mi'kmaq Initiative


The Indigenous Blacks & Mi'kmaq (IB&M) Initiative at the Schulich School of Law was established in 1989 to increase representation of Indigenous Blacks and Mi'kmaq in the legal profession in order to reduce discrimination.

From the efforts of many

The IB&M Initiative was the result of efforts by African Nova Scotian communities and Mi'kmaq First Nations to obtain access to legal education and the legal profession and to address racism in the justice system. These efforts were the catalyst for Dalhousie University's study entitled "Breaking Barriers: Report of the Task Force on Access for Black and Native People." The efforts coincided with the work of the Royal Commission on the Donald Marshall, Jr. Prosecution, which recommended that the then-fledgling IB&M Initiative "receive the financial support of the Governments of Canada and Nova Scotia, and the Nova Scotia Bar." Through the hard work and persistence of the Advisory Board and other community members, the directors, students, faculty, and staff, the IB&M Initiative grew to become a model for access to legal education and the legal profession across Canada and the United States.

Reaching out to the community

The IB&M Initiative works to ensure that Mi'kmaw and African Nova Scotian students, and other Aboriginal and Black students, are represented at the Schulich School of Law. The Initiative involves community outreach and recruiting; providing student financial and other support; developing scholarships in the areas of Aboriginal law and African Canadian legal perspectives, and promoting the hiring and retention of graduates.

Students who enter the Schulich School of Law through the IB&M Initiative join the regular first class, write the same exams, complete the same work and earn the same JD degree as do all other students at Schulich School of Law.

Since the IB&M Initiative began, more than 150 Black and Aboriginal graduates have gone on to pursue careers with private law firms, Aboriginal organizations, and government legal departments. They have taken up a range of leadership roles across Nova Scotia and beyond.

Supporting community & supporting success

Expanding race perspectives through scholarship

  • Find out more about the James Robinson Johnson Chair in Black Canadian Studies at Dalhousie University. Professor Esmeralda Thornhill of the Schulich School of Law was the first distinguished scholar to hold the Chair.
  • Our course offerings include:
    • Aboriginal Peoples (LAWS 2120)
    • African Nova Scotians and the Law (LAWS 2251)
    • Canadian Legal History (LAWS 2123)
    • Constitutional Law (LAWS 2062)
    • Critical Perspectives on Law (LAWS 2198)
    • Critical Race & Legal Theory I: A Survey of 'Race' & Law in Canada (LAWS 2194)
    • Fundamentals of Public Law (LAWS 1003)
    • Human Rights and Difference (LAWS 2261)
    • Human Rights Law & Protection in Canada (LAWS 2195)
    • Indigenous Law as Practice: Applying Mi'kmaq Legal Traditions (LAWS 2231)
    • International Human Rights Law (LAWS 2074)
    • Kawaskimhon Aboriginal Rights Moot (LAWS 2206)
    • Orientation to Law (LAWS 1002)
    • Practising International (Human Rights) Law in Canadian Courts (LAWS 2229)