Renewed Legal Relationships with Indigenous Peoples


Budget 2019 announced $10 million over five years to support renewed legal relationships with Indigenous peoples through the funding of Indigenous law initiatives across Canada. This announcement responds to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action 50, which calls on the federal government, in collaboration with Indigenous organizations, to fund the establishment of Indigenous law initiatives for the development, use and understanding of Indigenous laws and access to justice in accordance with the unique cultures of Indigenous peoples in Canada. 

Funding for this initiative is provided through the Justice Partnership and Innovation Program, and began in fiscal year 2019-20. In order to ensure that work could start quickly, the Department of Justice launched an initial invitational call for proposals to existing institutes working on the revitalization of Indigenous laws for the first year of funding. The Department of Justice Canada approved three applications:

The Wahkohtowin Law and Governance Lodge at the University of Alberta

The Wahkohtowin Law and Governance Lodge will receive $134,127 in 2019-2020 to assist with the development of the Lodge, workshops and Indigenous public legal education strategies. The creation of the Lodge is a response to the expressed needs of Indigenous communities and organizations, who want effective strategies to address pressing social issues, and to rebuild their own law and governance structures that resonate within their own legal and governance traditions.

The Wiyasiwewin Mikiwahpat Native Law Centre at the University of Saskatchewan

The Wiyasiwewin Mikiwahpat Native Law Centre will receive $185,000 in 2019-2020 to support their Innovation and Indigenization Project. The project will help to deepen the Centre’s understanding of Indigenous legal traditions, legal education and reconciliation. This knowledge will assist the Centre in working with Indigenous communities towards achieving full self-determination, as well as encourage dialogue on justice issues, such as access to justice. The Centre will work with and learn from Indigenous Elders, legal personnel and scholars, as well as law students and community members to further Indigenize the Centre’s Summer Program curriculum. 

Dalhousie University’s Revitalizing L’nuwey Tplutaqan in Child and Family Services Project

Dalhousie University’s interdisciplinary team of Indigenous and settler, legal and social science researchers, will receive $104,457 in 2019-2010 to build upon research priorities on Mi’kmaq (L’nu) Justice and the revitalization of L’nu Law. This research will engage new and emerging L’nu legal scholars and law students, justice system and government stakeholders, in the study of Lnuwey Tplutaqan (Mi’kmaq Legal Orders/Laws). This project will help L’nu in Nova Scotia identify legal principles and strategies that will assist them exercising jurisdiction and control over the areas of child and family services and protection, as well as in other areas.

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