Actions and Commitments

Call to Action # 27: Justice (25-42)

Law Society of Saskatchewan

February 19, 2024

The Law Society of Saskatchewan has the responsibility, pursuant to The Legal Profession Act, 1990, to “govern the legal profession in the province… in the public interest.” 

Our independence from the government is primary to our mission; it is important to the administration of justice and is fundamental to maintaining a free and democratic society that respects the Rule of Law. That is, the legal profession is uniquely positioned in society to provide a check and balance on government power by ensuring citizens who are in conflict with the government have access to impartial legal representation and ensuring accountability in all areas of society.

Law Society of Saskatchewan Commitment to Truth and Reconciliation

Truth and Reconciliation

The Truth and Reconciliation section on the Law Society of Saskatchewan website states as follows:

The Law Society of Saskatchewan recognizes the significance of the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and is committed to implementing the Calls to Action. The Law Society has a mandate to regulate lawyers and the practice of law in the public interest, including a duty to protect the public by assuring the integrity, knowledge, skill, proficiency, and competence of members.  

Several of the other Calls to Action, while not specifically directed at Law Societies, relate to legal issues currently impacting Indigenous Peoples and the Law Society also recognizes a role to play in their implementation. Reconciliation efforts will be ongoing and the Law Society acknowledges this work needs to be informed by Indigenous Peoples. 

On June 22, 2018, the Board of the Law Society approved the creation of a Truth and Reconciliation Advisory Group to guide the Law Society’s reconciliation efforts….

The Trust and Reconciliation Advisory Group provides advice to the Law Society on issues within the mandate of the Law Society affecting Indigenous Peoples in Saskatchewan with a current focus on four priority areas:  

  • Making a formal commitment to reconciliation and developing a framework to put that commitment into action.   
  • Reviewing regulatory processes and structures to determine whether these processes meet the needs of Indigenous peoples and identifying any gaps in meeting those needs.   
  • Providing ongoing opportunities for competency and awareness training for law society leadership and members.   
  • Collaborating and building relationships with Indigenous organizations, the Indigenous bar, and other appropriate groups.

Call to Action # 27

We call upon the Federation of Law Societies of Canada to ensure that lawyers receive appropriate cultural competency training, 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 anti-racism.

Mandatory Course: 

Since 2018, all students-at-law admitted to the Law Society of Saskatchewan have been required to complete mandatory Truth and Reconciliation training as part of the bar admissions program. 

From 2018-2020, Saskatchewan students-at-law in the former CPLED Bar Admissions Program were required to complete Indigenous Canada, a 12-lesson Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) from the University of Alberta Faculty of Native Studies that explores the different histories and contemporary perspectives of Indigenous peoples living in Canada. From an Indigenous perspective, this course explores complex experiences Indigenous peoples face today from a historical and critical perspective highlighting national and local Indigenous-settler relations. Topics for the 12 lessons include the fur trade and other exchange relationships, land claims and environmental impacts, legal systems and rights, political conflicts and alliances, Indigenous political activism, and contemporary Indigenous life, art and its expressions.”

In addition, beginning in 2020, all Saskatchewan students-at-law must complete the Practice Readiness Education Program (PREP). PREP includes a 10-hour Foundation Module dedicated to Indigenous Law, Cultures and Peoples. This Module provides basic knowledge of the Truth and Reconciliation Report, Indigenous Law (cultures, relationships, languages, communities), and Aboriginal Law (constitutional protections, leading cases, non-judicial sources). Beyond the Foundation Module, students apply the foundational knowledge they learn in the Foundation Module to the practice of law during the application phases of PREP. During the Foundation Workshops and the Virtual Law Firm phases, students focus on developing competencies related to how to build trusting relationships with Indigenous clients; learning about Indigenous clients; interviewing Indigenous clients; understanding the Gladue factors; and how oral histories and elder evidence may be incorporated into a legal matter.  

Law Society of Saskatchewan Commitment to Call to Action # 27:

1The history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools
Yes. The University of Alberta 12-lesson course “Indigenous Canada” addresses this topic as does the PREP Indigenous Law, Cultures and People Foundation Module
2The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Yes. The University of Alberta 12-lesson course “Indigenous Canada” addresses this topic as does the PREP Indigenous Law, Cultures and People Foundation Module
3Treaties and Aboriginal rights
Yes. The University of Alberta 12-lesson course “Indigenous Canada” addresses this topic as does the PREP Indigenous Law, Cultures and People Foundation Module
4Indigenous law
Yes. The University of Alberta 12-lesson course “Indigenous Canada” addresses this topic as does the PREP Indigenous Law, Cultures and People Foundation Module
5Aboriginal–Crown Relations
Yes. The University of Alberta 12-lesson course “Indigenous Canada” addresses this topic as does the PREP Indigenous Law, Cultures and People Foundation Module

Advancing Truth and Reconciliation

As part of its ongoing commitment to Truth and Reconciliation, the Law Society completed
the first phase of a Truth and Reconciliation Through Treaty Implementation (TRTI) exercise
with the Office of the Treaty Commissioner in 2022. Data regarding the Law Society was
collected, analyzed and discussed according to a growth model methodology to measure
progress towards TRTI. Based on this information, thirty-eight recommendations were
identified to advance the Law Society’s reconciliation journey.

The Law Society has integrated the TRTI recommendations with the four priorities identified
by its Truth and Reconciliation Advisory Group and made tangible progress in several areas,
including analyzing competency and awareness training. Since 2011, the Law Society has offered forty-one continuing professional development (CPD) programs, ranging from one-hour webinars to full day seminars, related to Truth and Reconciliation themes. These were mapped against the Truth & Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action No. 27 knowledge and skill objectives:

Knowledge and Skills ObjectivesTotal
Aboriginal – Crown Relations14
Anti-Racism10
Conflict Resolution0
History and Legacy of Residential Schools13
Indigenous Law4
Intercultural Competency12
Human Rights3
Treaties and Aboriginal Rights16
United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP)3

Further information regarding attendance at and impact of these CPD programs can be found in the Law Society of Saskatchewan 2022 Annual Report.

Response to Federation of Law Societies of Canada’s Statement of Commitment to Reconciliation (#s 2 – 8)

Recommendation Two

That the Federation urges all law societies to make a formal commitment to reconciliation and develop a framework or steps for putting that commitment into action. Law societies may consider adopting the Guiding Principles in the Federation of Law Societies (June 2020) Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Appendix C (on, pg. 18), if they do not yet have a framework in place, to guide their work on reconciliation. (See the Federation of Law Societies’ Appendix C, for e.g.)

The Truth and Reconciliation Advisory Group identified as one of its four priorities, “Making a formal commitment to reconciliation and developing a framework to put that commitment into action. On the recommendation of the Advisory Group, the Law Society has worked with the Office of the Treaty Commissioner of Saskatchewan to develop a Truth and Reconciliation through Treaty Implementation Action Plan which was finalized in July 2023.

Recommendation Three

That the Federation urge law societies to critically examine their regulatory processes and structures to consider how they may be more inclusive of the needs and perspectives of Indigenous peoples, as well as how they may adversely impact Indigenous peoples.

The Truth and Reconciliation Advisory Group identified as one of its four priorities, “Reviewing regulatory processes and structures to determine whether these processes meet the needs of Indigenous peoples and identifying any gaps in meeting those needs.   

Recommendation Four

That the federation urge law societies to provide ongoing opportunities for competency and awareness training for law society leadership and staff.

The Truth and Reconciliation section on the society’s website acknowledges C2A #27, and lists 21 CPDprograms.

Recommendation Five

That the Federation urge law societies to continue building relationships with local Indigenous organizations, the Indigenous bar, and other appropriate groups including the legal academy, through formal and informal opportunities for collaboration.

The Truth and Reconciliation Advisory Group identified as one of its four priorities:  “Collaborating and building relationships with Indigenous organizations, the Indigenous bar, and other appropriate groups.”

Recommendation Six

That the Federation urge law societies to collaborate with Indigenous organizations, members of the bar and law students to explore opportunities for providing additional supports to Indigenous students and members of the bar.

The Truth and Reconciliation Advisory Group identified as two of its four priorities:  
* Providing ongoing opportunities for competency and awareness training for law society leadership and members.   
* Collaborating and building relationships with Indigenous organizations, the Indigenous bar, and other appropriate groups”
There are also 21 CPD programs available on their website, a  large number of  which are credited.

Recommendation Seven

That the Federation urge law societies to:

  • Consider mandatory Indigenous cultural competency training.
  • Ensure that legal professionals in their jurisdictions are provided with access to educational opportunities to enhance their knowledge and understanding of Indigenous peoples, the legacy of colonization and the existence of Indigenous legal orders.
  • Ensure the availability of a continuum of educational opportunities and resources to recognize the diversity of legal practices and Indigenous peoples and legal orders within a given jurisdiction.
  • Collaborate with Indigenous organizations in the development and delivery of cultural competency training or rely on training already developed by such organizations.
Yes. The University of Alberta 12-lesson course “Indigenous Canada” addresses this topic.
See “Mandatory Course” above for details.
There are also 21 CPD programs listed on their website and 41 CPD programs have been delivered since 2011.

Recommendation Eight

That the Federation urge law societies to review their admissions curriculum and licensing requirements and make necessary modifications to reflect the spirit and intent of the TRC Calls to Action.

No. Not explicitly addressed.

Land Acknowledgement

Located on “Truth and Reconciliation” under Initiatives on Law Society of Saskatchewan website:

The Law Society regulates lawyers and the practice of law in the public interest in the province of Saskatchewan, which includes the shared lands of Treaties 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, and the homeland of the Métis. We pay respect to past, present, and future generations of all Indigenous Peoples and pledge to continue our path of truth and reconciliation for as long as the ‘sun shines, the rivers flow, and the grass grows’.