Truth & Reconciliation

A call to action

In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) released their historic Calls to Action. TRC Call to Action #28 is of particular relevance to law schools:

"We call upon law schools in Canada to require all law students to take a course in Aboriginal Peoples and the law, which includes the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the 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 antiracism."

The recent report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls also included Calls to Justice requiring mandatory competency training for members of the legal profession in Indigenous culture and histories.

Our response

Highlights of our TRC response

Schulich Law has made a serious commitment to implementing the TRC’s Calls to Action and the MMIWG’s Calls to Justice. We've made great progress in recent years, due in large part to our long-standing Indigenous Blacks and Mi'kmaq Initiative, support from leaders at the law school and Dalhousie, a dedicated Chancellor's Chair in Aboriginal Law and Policy, and our connnections to the local Indigenous community.

We look forward to building on these accomplishments in the coming years, and will continue to make the study of Aboriginal and Indigenous law an integral part of the curriculum. 

Actions taken

  • Formation of the TRC Implementation Committee in April 2016.
  • Appointment of Mi’kmaw legal scholar Naiomi Metallic as Chancellor’s Chair in Aboriginal Law and Policy in July 2016.
  • Since Fall 2016, supporting our colleagues through a dedicated Research Assistant to include Aboriginal and Indigenous law content in all 1L courses and many of the upper year courses.
  • Since Fall 2016, running a mass blanket exercise (an interactive activity teaching about the history of and current impacts of colonialism on Indigenous peoples) for all incoming first-year students.
  • In Fall 2017, launched our Aboriginal and Indigenous Law in Context (AILC) course, mandatory for all first-year students:
    • Part 1 (Fall): Learning objectives include understanding that Indigenous peoples are living and thriving in complex communities, with many aspirations for the future, while also dealing with the legacy of colonization and assimilation policies.
    • Part 2 (Winter): Learning objectives include introducing foundational legal issues relating to Indigenous peoples, including Aboriginal and treaty rights, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Indigenous legal systems, and to help students understand how current Canadian laws intersect with Indigenous issues in a variety of different ways.
  • We have added four new Aboriginal and Indigenous law courses in the upper year curriculum over the last four years: 
  • We have exhibited Indigenous artwork within the law school to enhance the Indigenous cultural presence in the law school.
  • We hosted the Kawaskimhon Aboriginal Rights Moot for the first time in Winter 2019.
  • Launch of Certificate in Aboriginal and Indigenous Law for JD students in September 2020.
  • In July 2020, Professor Sherry Pictou joined Schulich Law and the School of Public Administration, Faculty of Management. Professor Pictou is a Mi’kmaw woman from L’sɨtkuk (water cuts through high rocks) known as Bear River First Nation, Nova Scotia, and is a former chief for her community. Her research interests include decolonizing treaty relations, social justice for Indigenous women, Indigenous women’s role in food and lifeways, and Indigenous knowledge and food systems.