» Go to news main

Third‑year students participate in Kawaskimhon Aboriginal Moot

From left: Professor Naiomi Metallic, Paige Wilson, and Richard Kulesza
From left: Professor Naiomi Metallic, Paige Wilson, and Richard Kulesza

This year, two of our third-year Indigenous students, Paige Wilson and Richard Kulesza, along with me as their coach, participated in the annual Kawaskimhon Aboriginal Moot.  The Moot involves a multi-party negotiation with normally 7 to 8 parties represented at each table (this year four tables occurred simultaneously).  

Most Canadian law schools enter teams in the moot, including UNB, McGill, Osgoode, U of T, Windsor, Queen’s, Western, Lakehead, U of Manitoba, U of Saskatchewan, U of Calgary, U of Alberta, UBC, UVic and TRU.  The host school was the University of Calgary and the problem focused on the Energy East Pipeline project.  The problem was premised on Canada wanting to consult regarding legislation to compensate for Indigenous lands taken up for the pipeline corridor, and Energy East simultaneously wanting to enter impact and benefit agreements with affected Indigenous groups. 

In addition to First Nations groups, Metis, off-reserve and Indigenous women’s groups were invited to the table.   Our team was at the Ontario table and represented the Ontario Federation of Chiefs, who represented 134 First Nation in Ontario, giving them a strong voice at the table.  Our team participated in two and half days of intense negotiations which at times proved to be quite challenging.  The table did not reach consensus on the outcome (only one of the four tables did), but our team was able to negotiate deals with both Canada and Energy East, as well as some of the other Indigenous groups, that ensured the interest of their clients were protected.

I am very proud of our students’ performances.  They both worked very hard on their submissions, which were of excellent quality (and our submissions were frequently cited with approval by other parties at the table).  In addition, our students conducted themselves very admirably.  They were a great team, they were respectful of all the other participants and well liked by all of them as well as the facilitator, and, very importantly, they kept their clients’ best interest in mind while at the same time being willing to make some concessions for the benefit of all the Aboriginal groups at the table.

Next year’s moot will be at McGill and I’m already looking forward to it.