Professor Val Napoleon receives grant for ground breaking Indigenous research initiative

The Law Foundation of BC recently approved a grant for the Coast Salish Civil Procedure and Language research project headed by Dr. Val Napoleon, the Law Foundation Professor of Aboriginal Justice and Governance. This exciting research initiative will be carried out in partnership with Chief Doug White III of the Snuneymuxw First Nation.

The project will focus on civil procedure and language in Coast Salish legal traditions. As Dr. Napoleon notes, the Salish peoples developed legal systems grounded in the social, ecological and spiritual realities of their environment, as well as a strongly held separation of private and public law. The core principles of Salish civil procedure will be examined by looking at concepts of identity, governance and ethics, and entitlement. Research will also explore how language to influences and maintains ways of understanding in Coast Salish law and civil procedure.

Through community gatherings and interviews, the researchers will share, revise and further develop their materials and analysis with people in the communities. Elders and others who are knowledgeable about Coast Salish law will be invited to collaborate in preparation of resources and teaching materials.

According to Dr. Napoleon, law schools and universities worldwide are coming to recognize the importance of Indigenous peoples and the laws that structure their political, legal, social, and economic relationships to each other, and to others. She stated: "This study is crucial for its potential to prepare skilled professionals, support Indigenous legal institutions, and equip practitioners to advance the connections between Indigenous and non-Indigenous institutions."