UVic Law responds to Recommendations 27 and 28 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Recommendations 27 and 28 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 recommendations speak directly to Canadian legal educators.  However, all 94 of the recommendations are issues of concern to those of us who work with and within the law in Canada today. 

At the University of Victoria’s Faculty of Law, we are a community of students, faculty and staff, committed to delivering a curriculum that engages with questions of colonialism throughout our course offerings. We accept and try to live by the words of Commissioner Sinclair, "Truth and apologies are achieved through words... but the next step, reconciliation, is achieved only by acting differently."

 In 2014, we launched a two-year, comprehensive review of our curriculum. We are very proud of what we do as a law school, but a strong program only remains strong if it is continually assessed, refined, and delivered in a way that meets our objectives in the best way we can.

In that process, we will endeavour to live up to the TRCs recommendation, ensuring a learning environment where all our students will come to recognize the deep and lasting implications of Crown-Indigenous relations, including the legacy of the residential school system.  We are committed to graduate lawyers and other advocates who are aware of the privilege and responsibilities of practicing law in the multi-juridical Canada we share today.  

A number of our current projects seek to advance that aim. We have both a Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Law and the Law Foundation Chair of Aboriginal Justice and Governance, staffed by the wonderful Indigenous scholars John Borrows and Val Napoleon.

We weave a concern with Indigenous issues into a wide range of courses, so that attention to these issues are mainstreamed and not confined to nooks and crannies of the curriculum. Our upcoming curricular reform will fine-tune and extend that engagement.

Our Indigenous Law Research Unit, led by Professor Napoleon, works closely with Indigenous communities across the country to identify resources in their own legal traditions for addressing the challenges they face today. Under the leadership of Professors Borrows and Napoleon, we are working towards offering a degree in Indigenous Laws to interact with and complement our highly respected degree in the Common Law. 

We are proud of our role in delivering the Akitsiraq program which, between 2001 and 2005, provided a full JD program in Iqaluit to prepare a cohort of talented Inuit lawyers for meeting the needs of Nunavut today. Indeed, we continue to work with others to secure a second Akitsiraq program. 

Under the leadership of Professor Heather Raven, now Associate Dean (Academic and Student Relations), we developed advanced support systems for Indigenous students as early as 1992, and we have sought to reinvent and reinvigorate those systems as recently as the last two years.

Many of our graduate students work on Indigenous Law and have gone on to teach at Osgoode Hall Law School, Shingwauk Kinomage Gamig, and the Universities of Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ottawa, Vancouver Island, Victoria, Otago, and Wellington.

We continue to seek to strengthen connections for our Indigenous students, past, present and future, through support and creative offerings in their time at UVic Law and beyond.  And we will do all this work in solidarity with our colleagues across the country, sharing resources, ideas and energy, so that legal graduates can engage with integrity in implementing the TRC’s recommendations in the years to come.​