UVic Hosts Kawaskimhon Moot

Story and photos by Michael Davidson


Over the March 10th weekend, over 70 law students representing 20 law schools converged on UVic’s campus to participate in the 2023 Kawaskimhon Moot. This moot is unique in that it embraces legal pluralism and is non-adversarial.

In accordance with Coast Salish law, Phillip George welcomed participants to the territory and called seven witnesses to observe, remember, and recount the proceedings. Mr. George’s grandmother Elder May Sam prayed, blessed a bundle, and urged participants to be resilient in the face of the tough work ahead.

Over the course of two days of negotiations, mooters wrestled with difficult issues concerning Aboriginal title, The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), and the application of Wet’suwet’en law. 

Ashley Roussel, a mooter and second-year student in UVic’s Joint Degree Program in Canadian Common Law and Indigenous Legal Orders, described the event as a “great learning experience”. She praised fellow participants for “living up to their roles” which made the moot like a “real-life scenario”.

Leading practitioners facilitated negotiations at each of the six negotiation tables, including Tl'ul'thut (Robert) Morales who serves as chief negotiator for the Hul'qumi'num Treaty Group. He said that the moot gave participants a sense of how difficult and complex this work is and that he was “amazed” by the mooters at the table he facilitated.

When the negotiations concluded, UVic law professor and 2023 Kawaskimhon Moot organizer David Milward asked representatives from each negotiation table to speak about the nature and outcome of their discussions. Polsia Carrozza, a University of Ottawa student who negotiated at the bilingual (French/English) table, described the way her group reached agreements by breaking down the issues and working on resolving them in smaller groups.


Once each table finished describing their agreement, Phillip George asked all seven witnesses to recount what they had “seen and learned” at the moot. Dominga Robinson, a moot participant from the University of Saskatchewan, described the “very collegial” nature of her table and how participants learned by advocating for positions they would not usually take. Each witness received coins to thank them and commemorate their work. 

Elder May Sam formally closed the moot. She wished participants a safe journey home and sang a prayer song.

Facilitators, mooters, coaches, and organizers gathered on Saturday evening for a banquet at the Songhees Wellness Centre. Christine Sam welcomed attendees to the space. She and the rest of the Lekwungen Traditional Dancers presented three powerful dances, including the Running In dance which spanned the entire banquet hall.


Later in the evening, UVic Chancellor Marion Buller⁠—a celebrated legal scholar and judge⁠—delivered an inspiring keynote address. She congratulated participants on their hard work and urged them to keep “Indigenous laws in [their] legal toolboxes” and “listen more than talk”.

The UVic Faculty of Law expresses its sincere gratitude to those who sponsored the moot:

  • Olthuis, Kleer, Townshend LLP
  • Woodward & Company LLP
  • Miller Titerle + Company
  • BC Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation