Actions and Commitments

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

University of Manitoba – Robson Hall Faculty of Law

January 31, 2024

The UM Faculty of Law, one of the oldest law schools in Western Canada, founded in 1914 offers an exceptional legal education where students experience dynamic and innovative experiential and classroom learning, and receive the highest training in the skills of critical and analytical thinking, advocacy and legal research. 

Located in Robson Hall on the banks of the Red River on original lands of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Ojibwe-Cree, Dakota, and Dene peoples, and on the homeland of the Red River Métis, the UM Faculty of Law is proud of its tradition of innovation The Faculty is directly across the Red River from Riel House- the birthplace of Louis Riel, Father of Manitoba and a founder of the Métis Nation.

Faculty of Law Commitment to Truth and Reconciliation

Indigenous Initiatives:

The Faculty of Law has paid deliberate attention to CTA 28 including hiring three full-time Indigenous educators; two tenure-tracks: Assistant Professors Daniel Diamond, and Dr. Leo Baskatawang, the first non-law scholar hired into a tenure track position; and practicing lawyer, experienced instructor and alum Marc Kruse as our Indigenous Legal Studies Coordinator. Together, they have introduced and delivered an upper-years course on Indigenous Methodologies and Perspectives, which will become our mandatory Indigenous course for all JD students pending Senate approval in 2024. 

Under Dr. Baskatawang’s leadership, our first Indigenous Law conference (September, 2023) will launch a new law journal titled the Interdisciplinary Journal of Indigenous Inaakonigewin (meaning “law”). The Interdisciplinary Journal of Indigenous Inaakonigewin (IJII) was developed with the intention of uniting scholars, community leaders, and artists that have an interest in Indigenous law and remedies for justice. Our goal is to provide a diverse and inclusive platform, where teachers and students of all ancestral heritages can come together, across all academic disciplines, to share their research and knowledge as it pertains to Indigenous history, politics, law, education, health, business, as well as artistic expression, in the spirit of truth and reconciliation. 

Strategic Plan 2022-2025

The Plan articulates aspirations grounded in our values and priorities and ambitions. The Plan commits us to being an inclusive and diverse law school, while at the time assuring that, as Western Canada’s oldest law school, we continue to excel at scholarship, teaching excellence and clinical innovation in an environment that values Truth and Reconciliation and committed to equity, diversity, and inclusion.

One of the four areas of focus is Advancing Equity, Diversity, Inclusion & Indigeneity:

Goals:

  • consider Indigenous perspectives and principles of EDI in hiring, admissions, recruitment and retention and in all our policies and processes
  • develop a strong understanding among students, staff and faculty of the systemic barriers faced by individuals from all underrepresented groups 
  • improve resources for access to justice through legal education
  • stimulate and encourage education and research in Indigenous perspectives, legal orders and reconciliation
Activities & Initiatives
  • continue our commitment to EDI and Indigeneity with faculty, students and staff
  • re-evaluate admissions processes including Indigenous identity, EDI and merit
  • continue our commitment to bringing diverse identities, cultures and perspectives into legal education including understandings of systemic barriers and formulating remedial measures
  • continue curricular reform in the context of TRC Calls to Action
  • develop concrete research opportunities advancing Indigenous legal orders in the region
  • work with Truth and Reconciliation Action Team, MILSA and other partners
  • advance initiatives of the office of the Indigenous Legal Studies Coordinator
  • continue partnerships and learning with Indigenous communities
  • continue the practice of consultation with BIPOC communities
  • bolster EDI training and resources for faculty, staff and students
  • commit to UM Law‘s elder-in-residence program

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: Yes

The Faculty of Law has been working to meaningfully implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action #28, with the hiring of a new Indigenous Legal Studies Coordinator, Indigenization of the Juris Doctor curriculum, implementation of new courses, and introducing clinical opportunities for law students.

Other activities:

  • Deliver 1L content through orientation week and through our Legal Systems and Methods course
  • Land based lecture during orientation week, 
  • Visit the National Centre for TRC research
  • Visits to the MB museum to discuss Treaty – Selkirk and treaty 1 artifacts in the collection, fur trade, Metis history
  • Indigenous Legal Orders – oral history, creation stories, significance of Pipe ceremony.

LAWS 3290: Indigenous Legal Methodologies and Perspectives: 2nd year course for Juris Doctor

Indigenous Methodologies and Perspectives will build on material and skills learned during first year law courses. The class will be taught in a comparable manner to 1L Systems and Methods. It will also interact with cases discussed in 1L Constitutional Law. The course will discuss past and contemporary reconciliation efforts. We will survey common law “Aboriginal law” cases as well as Indigenous Legal Orders. The course will be taught in lecture/discussion format to convey critical information including historical context, background, and theory. Small group discussions will be part of each class. Guest speakers may present when/where available, to provide students with practical interaction with leaders or experts in their field relevant to the course syllabus. This syllabus provides a roadmap for the topics we will cover and some associated readings. Other readings may be announced week by week in collaboration with any visitors we may have for the course.

Starting in the fall of 2023, UM Law added the Cochrane Saxburg Indigenous Law Clinic to its roster of six experiential learning opportunities. Facilitated by the law firm of Cochrane Saxburg, law students will be helping members of the public to apply for pardons and for Indigenous Status, in addition to mentoring Indigenous secondary school students in the Seven Oaks School Division (Law Makers Program).

Land-based learning will also become a part of the J.D. curriculum for all law students.

Indigenous Community Legal Clinic under “Clinical Learning

The ICLC provides hands-on opportunities to students, such as developing and managing client files and conducting qualitative research. Students will also work directly with high school students from the Seven Oaks school division to increase “pathways in and out of law school.” Students will have an opportunity to learn theory about decolonizing and Indigenizing law, as well as how to integrate these principles into the practice of law.

Other Optional courses and/or activities:

  • We participate in the Kawaskimhon moot each year. Two teams were sent last year and hope to do the same this year.
  • 3rd year clinic externship – we partnered with 

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. Law 3290 Indigenous Legal Methodologies and Perspectives, Second or Third year
2The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Yes. Not explicitly stated but UNDRIP is referenced as supplemental reading material for Law 3290 Indigenous Legal Methodologies and Perspectives and also in Law 1460 Constitutional Law
3Treaties and Aboriginal rights
Yes. Law 1460 Constitutional LawCanadian constitutional law seeks to identify, define and reconcile the rights, responsibilities and functions of governments, communities and individuals in Canada. In the Fall term, this course aims to enable you to develop a critical understanding of the basic principles, theoretical debates and judicial doctrines that underlie and inform the division of powers between the federal and provincial governments and the relationship between Indigenous peoples and Canada and apply this knowledge to identify constitutional issues and formulate persuasive constitutional law arguments.
4Indigenous law
Yes. Law 3290 – Indigenous Legal Methodologies and Perspectives, Second or Third year
5Aboriginal–Crown Relations
Yes. Law 3290 – Indigenous Legal Methodologies and Perspectives, Second or Third year
Land Acknowledgement

Located on University of Manitoba Faculty of Law – Home Page and University of Manitoba – Home Page 

The University of Manitoba campuses are located on original lands of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Ojibwe-Cree, Dakota and Dene peoples, and on the homeland of the Red River Métis.

We respect the Treaties that were made on these territories, we acknowledge the harms and mistakes of the past, and we dedicate ourselves to move forward in partnership with Indigenous communities in a spirit of Reconciliation and collaboration.