Actions and Commitments

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

University of Calgary Faculty of Law

January 31, 2024

In 40 years, the Faculty of Law  has changed a lot, but we have also maintained much of our tradition — we are entrepreneurial, innovative and intimate. At the same time, we have changed the way students receive a legal education over the past 40 years, and we have become a model for law schools across the country.

Built in the 1960s, our main campus has been evolving ever since, and is now home to excellent research and athletics facilities, and extensive support services for students, faculty and staff. In 2017, we launched our Energy-Innovation-Impact strategic plan. Our three goals will continue to build a strong future for the law school; a future that embraces our location in Canada’s energy capital, but that also places us at the forefront of legal education throughout the common law world.

Faculty of Law Commitment to Truth and Reconciliation

Indigenous Peoples and Legal Education:
Energy, Innovation, Impact Strategic Plan, 2017-2022:

“The Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission have a particular resonance for legal education. We are committed to responding to the Calls to Action in a way that equips our graduates with the skills necessary to participate in the project of reconciliation. This includes ensuring our curriculum educates students about the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Indigenous rights, Indigenous law, and Indigenous- Crown relations. We will also continue to educate students about the intersections between the rights of Indigenous peoples, resource development and the environment.” 

Additional Initiatives for first year students

  • Participated in the Kairos blanket exercise during their Foundations of Law and Justice course;
  • Visited Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park – the site of the signing of Treaty 7 – for a day of treaty education;
  • Completed the Law Society of Alberta’s Indigenous Cultural Competency Education “The Path” and the Canadian Bar Association’s “The Path” programming during their Foundations of Law and Justice course;
  • Received training in Indigenous and Critical Race perspectives, and anti-racism training.
  • Integration of Indigenous programming in our Foundations in Law & Justice 3-week intensive first-year course September and January that includes:
    • Indigenous speaker panel;
    • Mandatory completion of the CBA’s and LSA’s “The Path”;
    • Topics on Indigenous and Critical Race perspectives and anti-racism;
    • Blanket exercise;
    • Indigenous Welcome Ceremony for newly admitted Indigenous law students.

Other things to note:

  • Regular participation in Kawaskimhon National Aboriginal Moot
  • Building relationships with Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers, Indigenous lawyers and professionals, and Indigenous Counsel of the LSA.
  • Creation and hiring of the Staff position of Coordinator, Indigenous Initiatives and Reconciliation.
  • Hiring of one Indigenous Faculty member.
  • Funding for students to attend the University of Saskatchewan Spring and Summer Law Courses prior to their first year.
  • Funding for students to complete the University of Calgary First Nations Leadership program as part of their degree.

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 Aboriginal–Crown relations. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and antiracism.

Mandatory Course: Partial – multiple courses address different aspects of C2A 28:

LAW 400 Constitutional Law

The basic elements of Canadian constitutional law. The nature of constitutions and constitutional processes; principles of constitutional interpretation; constitutional amendment; Federal-Provincial distribution of legislative powers including the federal general power, natural resources and public property, provincial property and civil rights, trade and commerce, provincial taxation, transportation, communications, and criminal law; the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms including principles of limitation, remedies, interpretation, application, fundamental freedoms, democratic and language rights, mobility rights, legal rights, equality rights, and aboriginal people’s rights.

LAW 404 Property

An examination of the fundamental concepts of property law and the types of property interests recognized by Anglo-Canadian law. The historical evolution of property concepts; the basic concepts of possession, ownership and title; estates and other interests in land such as joint and concurrent ownership, easements, covenants, licences, mortgages, future interests and perpetuities; the landlord and tenant relationship; the land titles system of registration of title to land; the social constraints upon property use and disposition; and property rights of aboriginal peoples.

LAW 420 Foundations of Canadian Law

Introduction to: legal methods, systems and institutions; sources of law; legal and judicial reasoning; legal analysis, including case analysis and problem-solving skills; critical perspectives on the law, including legal theory, history, and Indigenous perspectives; the role of the lawyer in system(s) of laws; access to justice. The course provides students with foundational analytical and critical legal skills, and uses performance-based learning methods.

The Faculty of Law continues to expand the breadth and depth of Aboriginal and Indigenous law content in the curriculum generally, especially in the mandatory curriculum. Across the mandatory curriculum students get a full course worth (36 credit hours) of instruction in these topics. Across the entire curriculum thirty-four of courses contain content dealing with issues of Aboriginal and Indigenous law.

Other optional Indigenous courses:

Modern Treaties

Modern Treaties and the Law is an intensive two-week course that takes University of Calgary law students to Whitehorse, Yukon, and surrounding communities to focus on the law of modern treaties and Indigenous self-government. There are 11 final agreements in the Yukon.

Reconciliation and Lawyers

Not only does the course tackle the past illegal and genocidal practices Indigenous Peoples were forced to endure and how this created severe distrust in the Western legal system, but students also examine current legal practices, laws, and policies and their discriminatory impacts on Indigenous Peoples, and how to reverse assumptions and embedded biases to become an ally and advocate for all clients, especially Indigenous clients. 

  • Indigenous Peoples and the Law
  • Indigenous Legal Theory
  • Residential Schools Settlement Agreement
  • Selected Topics in Indigenous Peoples and the Law
  • Legal Practice: Indigenous Business Law
  • Negotiating Indigenous Rights
  • Indigenous Economic Development
1The history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools
Yes but limited. Covered by Kairos Blanket exercise and The Path
2The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Yes but not specifically identified. Assumed to be covered by LAW 400 Constitutional Law
3Treaties and Aboriginal rights
Yes but limited. First-year students visit Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park – the site of the signing of Treaty 7 – for a day of treaty education;
4Indigenous law
Yes. Law 420 is compulsory and deals with Indigenous legal theory.
5Aboriginal–Crown Relations
Somewhat. Assumed to be covered in Law 420 under “Indigenous Perspectives”
Land Acknowledgement: 

Located on Faculty of Law – Home Page and the University of Calgary – Home Page (modified version)

We would like to acknowledge the traditional territories of the People of the Treaty 7 region in Southern Alberta which includes the Blackfoot Confederacy (comprising the Siksika, Piikani and Kainai First Nations), as well as the Tsuut’ina First Nation and the Stoney Nakoda (including the Chiniki Bearspaw, and Goodstoney First Nations). The City of Calgary is also home to Métis Nations of Alberta, Region # 3