UVic Law Professor Val Napoleon Wins Provost's Engaged Scholar Award

Val Napoleon As a recipient of the Provost’s Engaged Scholar Award, UVic Law Professor Val Napoleon has been deservedly recognized for her valuable work in community engaged scholarship.

The award serves as a tribute to her national and international work with communities to research and rejuvenate indigenous law. Napoleon established the Indigenous Law Research Unit (ILRU), which she says, “Starts its research and work by taking Indigenous laws seriously as laws.”

Napoleon, along with Hadley Friedland at the ILRU, developed an Indigenous law research methodology. One of Napoleon’s major research projects was the national collaborative Accessing Justice and Reconciliation Project (AJR), where researchers employed the indigenous law research methodology to analyze and synthesize publicly available materials and oral stories within seven partner communities, representing six Indigenous legal orders across Canada. The ILRU collaborated with the Indigenous Bar Association and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, and was funded by the Ontario Law Foundation.

The AJR’s research focus was legal responses in different legal orders to harms and conflicts, both internally and externally. The resulting legal resources were developed in collaboration with the partner communities, who are now drawing on these to develop their own justice or court processes, child welfare initiatives, and so on. The ILRU will also continue to draw on these amazing legal resources to develop Indigenous law curricula for the proposed Indigenous Law Degree Program at the University of Victoria.

Other ILRU research initiatives and projects include Coast Salish legal protocols, gender issues in Indigenous law, indigenous legal methodology course development, legal pluralism, a graphic narrative on Cree law, three commissioned papers, series of academic papers, numerous community workshops, a website, and the creation of non-text expressions of indigenous law (art, video recordings, posters, etc.).

The UVic Engaged Scholar Awards program is intended to assist the university in meeting its strategic objectives in relation to community engagement. The title is awarded to tenured members of faculty who have achieved great distinction as a community engaged scholar.