Actions and Commitments

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

University of British Columbia’s Peter A. Allard Law School

January 31, 2024

The Peter A. Allard School of Law is recognized as one of the leading law schools in Canada, and has a reputation worldwide for innovative research, inspiring teachers, and outstanding graduates. Our students are academically outstanding, intellectually curious, and actively-engaged in using their new knowledge and skills to help others. Our faculty members are innovative teachers and scholars who have gained national and international recognition for their contributions in areas ranging from human rights to environmental sustainability to business law, and our alumni have achieved leadership in the profession as well as in the business, government and non-profit sectors.

Faculty of Law Commitment to Truth and Reconciliation

Indigenous Focus

The Allard School of Law began its First Nations Legal Studies Program in 1975. Since then, the school has grown to become a leader in Indigenous legal education and scholarship. A name change in 2019 to Indigenous Legal Studies reflects the development of innovative programming and an emphasis on building a strong and supportive community. Indigenous Legal Studies aims to provide both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students and faculty with a deeper understanding of Indigenous legal issues,

Teaching and Learning

Indigenous Legal Studies offers courses, experiential opportunities, speaker series and programming and supports to learn about Indigenous legal issues and peoples and Aboriginal law. Highlights:

  • Specialization in Indigenous Legal Studies: Through completing a series of course-credits focusing on Indigenous legal issues and Aboriginal law, students prepare for a career, not just in Aboriginal law, but in a variety of practice areas where Indigenous peoples and lands are involved. 
  • The Indigenous Cultural Competency Certificate: This non credited certificate program is open to faculty, staff and students and is offered through monthly modules that span the full academic year. Participants are exposed to concepts and materials on decolonization, Indigenous laws, and Elder-led teachings.
  • Indigenous Community Legal clinic (ICLC): Located in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, the clinic provides an incredible learning opportunity for JD students to work as clinicians for Indigenous clients.
  • The Kawaskimhon Moot: This Canada-wide non adversarial moot provides JD students with an opportunity to gain expertise and skill development in consensus based approaches to difficult legal issues focusing on Indigenous issues. 
  • ILS Academic Leadership Certificate: This non credited certificate program provides academic and leadership sessions to assist with community building and coaching to Indigenous JD students.
  • ILS Speaker Series: A range of speaker series covering a wide-range of topics on Indigenous issues including ILS Book Talks, ILS Research Series, ILS Fireside Chats, among others.

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

LAW 200: Indigenous Settler Legal Relations

This course seeks to foster a decolonized understanding of law, legal institutions, and legal processes in Canada. Throughout the course, students will engage with Indigenous perspectives on the proposed topics and critically examine the history and legacy of colonial legal orders that worked to suppress and erase Indigenous peoples. Understanding the multiple ways that law was used as a mechanism for dispossession, cultural suppression and population control is a key first step in reconciling Canada’s legal history. Students will be exposed to examples of Indigenous law in practice over time as well as the current resurgence of Indigenous law and will consider the context and rationale for Indigenous and colonial legal orders to exist in new relations to each other. Students will also study and reflect on possibilities for Indigenous and colonial legal orders to co-exist, and the legal and social dynamics that would facilitate these much-needed changes.

LAW 291: Aboriginal and Treaty Rights

This course examines the Aboriginal and treaty rights protected by Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. The nature and extent of this protection will be explored through the key s.35 judgments of the Supreme Court of Canada. The extent to which this jurisprudence is consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples will also be explored. LAW 291 (2).

Indigenous Cultural Competency Certificate

The ICCC is an eight-month non-credit certificate course that assists participants in developing better understandings of colonial assumptions, beliefs, and biases that form the foundation of the Canadian legal system, the history of colonial practices and policies in Canada, Indigenous perspectives on law, and what decolonization means for the practice of law. 

  1. Module 1: Indigenous Legal Theory
  2. Module 2: Indigenous Legal Orders
  3. Module 3: Indigenous Legal Laws in Practice
  4. Module 4: Elder-led teachings
  5. Module 5: History and Impacts of Indian Residential Schools
  6. Module 6: Indigenous Awareness Week
  7. Module 7: Closing Event & Talking Circle

Through the program participants will learn about implicit bias, anti-racism, histories of Indigenous-Crown relations, including colonial policies and practices enacted through law, Indigenous perspectives on legal issues, and Indigenous law.  

1The history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools
Yes. LAW 200: This course was created as a direct response to the Call to Action, and covers this history and places much of it in the Canadian legal context, examining the laws and policies of the Crown that made it possible for this system to be put in place and maintained over generations.
2The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Yes. LAW 291:  Aboriginal and Treaty Rights directly addresses UNDRIP
3Treaties and Aboriginal rights
Yes. LAW 291:  “LAW 292: Aboriginal and Treaty Rights” directly addresses Aboriginal and Treaty Rights
4Indigenous law
Yes. LAW 200: Indigenous Settler Legal Relations directly addresses Indigenous Law
5Aboriginal–Crown Relations
Yes. LAW 200 and LAW 291: Also included in the 7 modules of the Indigenous Cultural Competency Certificate 

Land Acknowledgement

Faculty of Law – Home Page and University of BC – Home Page

We acknowledge that the UBC Point Grey campus is situated on the traditional, ancestral and unceded  territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam).