Actions and Commitments

Call to Action # 28: Justice (25-42)

Lakehead University Faculty of Law

January 31, 2024

Bora Laskin Faculty of Law:

We are proud to serve Northern Ontario as an innovative regional law school. Our graduates are ready to be called to the bar and practice on graduation as our Integrated Practice Curriculum combines the rigorous study of law with skills training in all three years of study.

As a law school community, we are committed to making a difference, providing access to justice, and leading the way for northern communities. We implemented mandatory courses in Aboriginal and Indigenous laws before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission called all legal educators to action. We continue to grow our offerings in these areas through leadership and close collaborations with local First Nations communities and Indigenous organizations.

We embrace three mandates in our curriculum: Aboriginal and Indigenous Law, Natural Resources and Environmental Law, and Sole/Small Town Practice with the Integrated Practice Curriculum (IPC).

Faculty of Law Commitment to Truth and Reconciliation

President’s Council on Truth and Reconciliation

In 2016, as the 1st Indigenous Chair on Truth and Reconciliation (CTR) Dr. Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux was given the lead on the establishment of a Presidential Council on Truth and Reconciliation (PCTR) at Lakehead University. The CTR and this Council has worked together to provide education on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action for our governing bodies, faculty, staff and administration. 

The PCTR has developed a series of teaching modules and webinars that directly address several calls to action and encourage the entire diversity of the Lakehead academic community to participate. The President’s Council on Truth and Reconciliation is responsible for working with the President and the Chair on Truth and Reconciliation to fully implement relevant or specifically chosen Calls for Action from the Truth and Reconciliation.

The Chair on Truth and Reconciliation continues to liaise as requested with the Board of Governors and Senate to ensure they are kept apprised of implementation activities and can ensure relevant TRC Calls to Action are being addressed and implemented according to Lakehead’s larger strategic and academic plans.

Call to Action # 28

We call upon law schools in Canada to require all law students to take a course in Aboriginal people 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 AboriginalCrown relations. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and antiracism.

Mandatory Course: Yes

LAWS 1530: Indigenous Law Mandatory half-year course in first year

This half-year course examines the laws and legal traditions of various Indigenous nations, such as the Cree, Anishinabek, Métis, Witsuwit’en and Gitksan nations. It is taught from an Indigenous perspective, focusing on Indigenous peoples’ own laws, worldviews and understanding of their treaties with the Crown.

LAWS 1535: Indigenous Perspectives: Mandatory half-year course in first year

Indigenous Perspectives is a non-credit course, where students will be introduced to Aboriginal culture, traditions and perspectives through invited speakers, Elders, and out of class opportunities to interact with Indigenous communities. Certain in-class sessions are mandatory and will be scheduled throughout the first year. In addition, students are to complete their own hours of engagement with indigenous communities and local initiatives. The hours may include scheduled opportunities in the law school such as guest speakers, elder talks, and special ceremonies. Outside of the law school students may attend cultural events, ceremonies, conferences or volunteer opportunities. 

LAWS 2000: Aboriginal Legal Issues:  Mandatory full-year course in second year

This full-year course examines Canadian laws applied to Aboriginal peoples. It focuses on the jurisprudence pertaining to constitutionally protected Aboriginal and treaty rights and engages in a critical evaluation of that jurisprudence and its underlying tenets, such as the assumption of Crown sovereignty.

An increasingly important aspect of this jurisprudence is the Crown’s duty to consult with and accommodate Aboriginal peoples in certain circumstances; this course explores the many recent developments in this area of law, particularly in the context of resource extraction.

Finally, this course considers international law pertaining to Indigenous issues, including the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It examines not only the substantive rights protected by the Declaration, but also the ways in which Canadian courts may potentially apply the Declaration domestically.

Bora Laskin Faculty of Law Commitment to C2A # 28: 5 out of 5 = 100%

1The history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools
Yes. Indigenous Legal Traditions: LAWS 1530.
LAWS 1530 is a compulsory course that examines legal traditions and is taught from an Indigenous perspective. The history of colonization and cultural genocide are discussed.
2The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Yes. Aboriginal Legal Issues: LAWS 2000
Aboriginal Legal Issues is compulsory and “considers international law pertaining to Indigenous issues, including the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It examines not only the substantive rights protected by the Declaration, but also the ways in which Canadian courts may potentially apply the Declaration domestically”.
3Treaties and Aboriginal rights
Yes. Indigenous Legal Traditions: LAWS 1530
The compulsory first year classes deal with it and so does Aboriginal Legal Issues (2000). The 2000 course, “focuses on the jurisprudence pertaining to constitutionally protected Aboriginal and treaty rights and engages in a critical evaluation of that jurisprudence and its underlying tenets, such as the assumption of Crown sovereignty”.
4Indigenous law
Yes. See above.
5Aboriginal–Crown Relations
Yes. Aboriginal Legal Issues: LAWS 2000
LAWS 2000 is a mandatory course that facilitates “evaluation of that jurisprudence and its underlying tenets, such as the assumption of Crown sovereignty. An increasingly important aspect of this jurisprudence is the Crown’s duty to consult with and accommodate Aboriginal peoples in certain circumstances; this course explores the many recent developments in this area of law, particularly in the context of resource extraction”.
Land Acknowledgement

Lakehead University Faculty of Law – Home Page and – Lakehead University Home PageLakehead University respectfully acknowledges its campuses are located on the traditional lands of Fort William First Nation, Signatory to the Robinson Superior Treaty of 1850 and the Ojibwe, Odawa, and Pottawatomi nations, collectively