Revitalization of Indigenous laws in Ontario a priority for the Government of Canada

News release

Revitalization of Indigenous laws in Ontario a priority for the Government of Canada

July 21, 2021 – Ottawa, Ontario – Department of Justice Canada

The Government of Canada is committed to walking the shared path of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, and remains focused on renewing this relationship. This includes protecting Indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination, supporting the revitalization of Indigenous legal systems and traditions, as well as acknowledging the integral role that Indigenous communities and organizations play in the development, use and understanding of Indigenous laws.

Today, the Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, accompanied by the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, and Peter Fragiskatos, Member of Parliament for London North Centre, highlighted the Government of Canada’s support to the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians (AIAI) and Lakehead University’s Bora Laskin Faculty of Law for their projects to build capacity for and implement Indigenous laws and law-making institutions. Support for this initiative aligns with the Government of Canada’s response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) Call to Action 50.

The AIAI’s project “Indigenous Law-Making Research and Implementation”, has two parts. In phase one of the project, AIAI will work with the Communities to better the traditional laws and law-making processes of the Lenape, Mohawk, Oneida, and Anishinaabe Nations. In phase two, there will be a pilot project to re-establish law-making institutions and begin the process of developing laws. The project will help create the necessary capacity and community network to support participating Nations’ law-making institutions in a sustainable manner.

The “Maamawi Bimosewag - They Walk Together” project will lay the foundation for an Indigenous Law and Justice Institute at the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law at Lakehead University. The project will include three elements: (i) growing relationships and partnering with regional First Nations communities, tribal councils and the Métis Nation of Ontario for the revitalization of Anishinaabe and Métis Law; (ii) land-based and partnered learning opportunities for community members and law students, and continuing legal education opportunities for the regional practicing bar and the judiciary; and (iii) research to support the project’s revitalization and curriculum development initiatives.

Call to Action 50 calls upon the federal government to collaborate with Indigenous organizations to fund Indigenous law institutes for the development, use and understanding of Indigenous laws and access to justice in accordance with the unique cultures of Indigenous peoples in Canada. Supporting Call to Action 50 aligns with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which sets out the right of Indigenous peoples to maintain and strengthen their distinct legal institutions.

The Department of Justice is providing a combined total for these two projects of up to $918,270 over three years through its Justice Partnership and Innovation Program. This program supports activities that respond effectively to the changing conditions affecting Canadian justice policy.

Quotes

“It will be interesting and challenging work to meet with the communities and gain an understanding of what is truly ours and how we can build a firm foundation to establish and assert our inherent jurisdiction. As we begin the work required to rebuild capacity for our own legal processes, it is important for us to focus on what is inherent, what was given to us through Creation, and what we need to be able carry out our responsibilities as Indigenous Nations for the generations yet to come.”

Grand Chief Joel Abram
Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians

“The Bora Laskin Faculty of Law is excited to expand its reconciliation initiatives, and we are grateful to Indigenous communities and organizations and the federal Department of Justice for their leadership and support. Maamawi Bimosewag - They Walk Together will establish an Indigenous Law and Justice Institute, allowing the Faculty to expand its land-based learning, engage in curricular innovation for reconciliation, decolonization and Indigenization, and most importantly work with Indigenous partners to restore and revitalize Indigenous laws in our region and throughout Canada.”

Jula Hughes, Dean and Professor
Bora Laskin Faculty of Law, Lakehead University

“Our Government will walk the shared path of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, and remains focused on seeing CTA 50 implemented. I am pleased to support the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians and the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law with their projects. We are committed to support the revitalization of Indigenous laws in Ontario and work in partnership with Indigenous peoples to better understand and apply Indigenous laws to strengthen communities and increase access to justice.”

The Honourable David Lametti, P.C., Q.C., M.P.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

“Responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Actions remains a key commitment for our government. I am proud to highlight funding to the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians and the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law for their projects to help advance the important work to implement CTA 50 and revitalize Indigenous legal traditions.”

The Honourable Patty Hajdu, P.C., Q.C., M.P.
Minister of Health

“This funding will help these two organizations to support the revitalization of Indigenous Law and make a difference for Indigenous communities. I am proud of the work both organizations are doing with the communities.”

Peter Fragiskatos
Member of Parliament for London North Centre

Quick facts

  • In Budget 2019, the Government of Canada responded to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action 50 by announcing $10 million over five years in support of Indigenous law initiatives across Canada.

  • To strengthen community-based justice systems and support self-determination, the 2020 Fall Economic Statement also proposed investments to support the development of Administration of Justice Agreements with Indigenous communities.

  • Through the release of Budget 2021, the Government of Canada announced investments of $18 million over 5 years, and $4 million ongoing to revive the Law Commission of Canada to support, among other things, the work to address systemic barriers in the justice system, including barriers to justice faced by Indigenous peoples.

  • The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act received Royal Assent and came into force in Canada on June 21, 2021. Developed with Indigenous peoples, this Act creates a legislative framework to implement the Declaration in Canada. It requires the Government of Canada, in consultation and collaboration with Indigenous peoples, to take all measures necessary to align federal laws with the Declaration, develop an action plan to achieve the Declaration’s objectives and report annually to Parliament on the progress to align laws and the action plan.

Associated links

Contacts

For more information, media may contact:

Chantalle Aubertin
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
(613) 992-6568
Chantalle.Aubertin@justice.gc.ca

Media Relations
Department of Justice Canada
613-957-4207
media@justice.gc.ca

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