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The Indigenous Blacks & Mi'kmaq Initiative

In 1989, the Indigenous Blacks & Mi'kmaq (IB&M) initiative was established at Dalhousie University’s Schulich School of Law with the purpose of reducing structural and systemic discrimination by increasing the representation of indigenous Nova Scotian blacks and Mi'kmaq in the legal profession.

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 a Dalhousie University study, entitled "Breaking Barriers: Report of the Task Force on Access for Black and Native People," and 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, and 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.

The primary focus of the IB&M Initiative is on students who are either

  • Indigenous black Nova Scotians, that is, individuals who are black and were born and raised in Nova Scotia, or who have a substantial connection with a historically black community in Nova Scotia, or
  • Mi’kmaq, that is, individuals who are Mi’kmaq and were born and raised in Mi’qmaqi or who have a substantial connection with a Mi’kmaq community in Mi’kmaqi.

The IB&M Initiative places the admission of African Nova Scotian and Mi'kmaq students as its highest priority. However, other black and aboriginal students across Canada are also urged to apply to the Schulich School of Law. If, in any given year, all qualified Indigenous Blacks and Mi'kmaq students have been admitted and there are still spaces available, black students who are not indigenous to Nova Scotia and aboriginal students who are not Mi'kmaq may be admitted through the IB&M category.

Applicants to the Indigenous Blacks and Mi'kmaq Initiative

Candidates for admission to this program must be either indigenous Nova Scotian black or Mi'kmaq persons and should indicate this on their application materials. Otherwise, the documentation is similar to the regular admission process.

For more information on how to apply, visit the Schulich School of Law website.

Applicants who are accepted to the Schulich School of Law in one of the designated special categories may, as a condition of their acceptance, be required by the Admissions Committee to successfully complete, either prior to or during their first year of law school, a designated course of study.

Native Applicants

Those native applicants who are not eligible for the Indigenous Black & Mi'kmaq Initiative, and whose previous academic background does not meet the admissions standards, are eligible to apply for admission to the Schulich School of Law through successful completion of the Program of Legal Studies for Native People at the University of Saskatchewan, College of Law.

Application forms and further information about this program are available from

Professor Ruth Thompson, Director
Program of Legal Studies for Native People
College of Law
University of Saskatchewan
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
S7N 0W0