Revitalization of Indigenous laws a priority for the Government of Canada: Supports first-of-its-kind certificate program with University of Ottawa
August 17, 2022 – 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 recognizing 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, and Dean Marie-Eve Sylvestre, from the Faculty of Law, Civil Law Section, of the University of Ottawa, announced funding to support the University of Ottawa’s Visual Laboratory on Indigenous Legal Orders of the Indigenous Law Certificate Program. 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 University of Ottawa’s Certificate in Indigenous Law is the first of its kind in Canada. The program builds on Indigenous knowledge and languages, and will be offered entirely in French. It was designed and developed exclusively for Indigenous students.
The Certificate in Indigenous Law aims to revitalize and enhance Indigenous legal systems, to provide a more respectful welcome to Indigenous learners on their academic path in law, and ensure access to justice and legal education for First Nations, Inuit and Métis. The program’s Visual Laboratory on Indigenous Legal Orders will highlight Indigenous justice systems and laws by means of a series of short audio-visual vignettes featuring stories from participating First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities. This innovative initiative aims to increase knowledge, awareness and understanding of the recognition of Indigenous laws and legal traditions and to encourage an enlightened dialogue within in the justice system and legal practice in this respect.
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 for First Nations, Inuit and Métis. 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.
Justice Canada is providing $596,565 over three years to the University of Ottawa through its Justice Partnership and Innovation Program for this initiative.
“Revitalizing Indigenous legal traditions is central to reconciliation. That is why implementing CTA 50 remains a priority for our Government. I am pleased to support the University of Ottawa with their new initiative that promotes the revitalization of Indigenous laws, through partnership with Indigenous peoples. This work represents a critical step in strengthening communities, advancing self-determination and increasing access to justice.”
The Honourable David Lametti, P.C., Q.C., M.P.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
“I am extremely grateful to Justice Canada for supporting the creation of the Visual Lab in support of the certificate in Indigenous Law. The Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa has been a pioneer in teaching and research pertaining to Indigenous legal orders starting in the early 2000s. This new certificate program aims to continue in our Faculty commitment to decolonize our programs and promote Indigenous law, while increasing access to justice and legal studies for Indigenous students.”
Dr. Marie-Eve Sylvestre
Dean, Faculty of Law (Civil Law Section), University of Ottawa
“The University of Ottawa is thrilled to launch the first French-language Certificate in Indigenous law in Canada. This program directly contributes to the University’s Indigenization goals layed out in the Indigenous Action Plan. It helps to incorporate Indigenous knowledge and methodologies, and create a culturally sensitive and welcoming climate on campus. Thanks to this funding, we can create multimedia academic content in partnership with Indigenous communities to support the program.”
President and Vice-Chancellor, University of Ottawa
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 became law on June 21, 2021. The Act requires the Government of Canada, in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous peoples, to ensure federal laws are consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, to prepare and implement an action plan, and prepare annual reports on progress and table them in each House of Parliament.
For more information, media may contact:
Office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
Department of Justice Canada
University of Ottawa
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