Actions and Commitments

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

Queen’s University Faculty of Law

February 3, 2024

Academic excellence is at the heart of what makes Queen’s one of the best law schools in Canada. From our traditional strengths in criminal and family law to our growing recognition as one of Canada’s leading corporate and trade law institutions, our faculty are world-class researchers who remain equally committed to innovation and excellence in the classroom.

Faculty of Law Commitment to Truth and Reconciliation

Community Consultation: Sir John A MacDonald Hall

“Queen’s University has accepted the findings of the TRC and is committed to honouring its calls to action. The TRC identifies special responsibilities for law schools in Canada, and we have begun a process to ensure that we live up to those responsibilities…Since the TRC released its report, we have welcomed an Indigenous Recruitment & Support Officer to the law school. We have also seen the integration of a number of Aboriginal and Indigenous law courses in its curriculum, and the creation, supported by alumnus David Sharpe, Law’95, of the Chief Don Maracle Reconciliation/Indigenous Knowledge Initiative.

According the Queen’s Law Strategic Framework 2021-2026 two of its Goals :

d)     a community of students, faculty, staff, and alumni that embraces equity, diversity, inclusion, and Indigeneity and reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples”

  • a law school community committed to fostering relationships with local, Indigenous, national, and global communities beyond Queen’s Law. 
Strategic Priority
  • Advancing inclusion and reconciliation

Engagement with Indigenous knowledge and legal traditions is critical for reconciliation; it is also central to what it means to be a proficient lawyer in Canada today and represents an area of future growth and importance in which Queen’s Law could distinguish itself. Building on our efforts to integrate Indigenous knowledge and wisdom into the academic environment, we aim to chart a path for Queen’s Law’s aspiration to be a leader in Indigenous knowledge and in realizing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action no. 28. 

Initiatives:

  • Realize the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action no. 28 beyond curriculum reforms by emphasizing the centrality of reconciliation to the practice of law in Canada
  • Develop, maintain, and deepen mutually beneficial relationships and partnerships with Indigenous communities, including those neighbouring Queen’s
    • Performance Measures
      • By 2021, strike a TRC Committee to make recommendations on Queen’s Law’s contributions to reconciliation 
      • By 2022, take meaningful steps toward innovative approaches to teaching and learning about Indigenous law, including ‘on the land’ teaching and learning classes in Indigenous communities 
      • By 2023, explore with local and regional Indigenous communities the creation of an Indigenous Legal Clinic or internship The 2022-23 Queen’s National Scholars (QNS) competition launched earlier this year to enhance capacity and academic excellence in the interdisciplinary Indigenous Studies Program at Queen’s. Following a call to all faculties and departments at Queen’s for expressions of interest, six scholar proposals – in addition to the newly created Chair in Indigenous Studies – were selected to move forward to the recruitment stage.

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: No

Law 15* Constitutional Law 4 credits: Only related mandatory course

The study of law pertaining to the judicial protection of fundamental rights, including aboriginal and Charter rights.

In January 2023, all of the 1L students in Constitutional law participated in the “Blanket Exercise”, which details various elements of how Canadian law and policy systemically discriminated against Indigenous peoples, and how this carries forward today. 

Upper Level Elective courses

Some of the upper year elective courses offered that focus on Indigenous law include:

  • Indigenous Law in Practice
  • Indigenous Law in Context (Anishinaabe Law Camp, intensive at Chippewas of Nawash FN)
  • Indigenous Law and Ecological Governance
  • Indigenous Lived Experience of Canadian Law

Note:

Faculty have discretion in the current core curriculum courses to decide what to integrate into their courses. Queen’s is currently undergoing an intensive curriculum overhaul to ensure we institute a mandatory course re CTA # 28 as soon as able. In addition, another Indigenous prof is expected to be hired shortly in the Faculty who specializes in Indigenous Legal Studies.

 Call to Action # 28: Compliance with mandatory Indigenous course content
1The history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools
In Progress. Strategic Priority # 3 identified “By 2022, “take meaningful steps towards innovative approaches to teaching and learning about Indigenous law, including ‘on the land’ teaching and learning classes in Indigenous communities.
2The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
In Progress. Strategic Priority # 3 identified “By 2022, “take meaningful steps towards innovative approaches to teaching and learning about Indigenous law, including ‘on the land’ teaching and learning classes in Indigenous communities.
3Treaties and Aboriginal rights
Yes. LAW 15* Constitutional LawAboriginal rights are covered in the mandatory course. Assumption is that “Treaty Rights” are included as well.
4Indigenous law
In Progress. Strategic Priority # 3 identified “By 2022, “take meaningful steps towards innovative approaches to teaching and learning about Indigenous law, including ‘on the land’ teaching and learning classes in Indigenous communities.Available as an optional LAW 398 course which contains several Indigenous Law streams but there are no mandatory Indigenous law requirements.
5Aboriginal–Crown Relations
In Progress. Strategic Priority # 3 identified “By 2022, “take meaningful steps towards innovative approaches to teaching and learning about Indigenous law, including ‘on the land’ teaching and learning classes in Indigenous communities.

Land Acknowledgement:

Queens’s University Faculty of Law – Home Page and Queen’s University – Home Page

Queen’s University is situated on traditional Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee Territory.