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Advanced Education, Skills and Training

UVic law school expansion to house National Centre for Indigenous Laws

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Advanced Education, Skills and Training

UVic law school expansion to house National Centre for Indigenous Laws

Media Contacts
Sean Leslie
Communications Director
Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training
250 893-4403
Denise Helm
Director, Media Relations and Public Affairs
University of Victoria
250 888-0784 (mobile)
Media Contacts
Sean Leslie
Communications Director
Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training
250 893-4403
Denise Helm
Director, Media Relations and Public Affairs
University of Victoria
250 888-0784 (mobile)

Backgrounders

What people are saying about the UVic law school expansion to house the National Centre for Indigenous Laws

Carolyn Bennett, federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations –

“Indigenous peoples in Canada have unique laws and legal traditions. We recognize the importance of revitalizing Indigenous legal systems, as well as the important role Indigenous law institutes play in accelerating the path to self-determination. Our government is proud to be a partner in University of Victoria’s National Centre for Indigenous Laws that will serve as a foundation for debate, learning, public education and partnership on the revitalization of Indigenous laws. The opening of this centre will benefit both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people as we seek to build a fairer and more just Canada which respects the strength of Indigenous knowledge. It is an important step forward toward the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.”

Josh Paterson, executive director, Law Foundation of British Columbia –

“The Law Foundation of BC is proud to support the vital work at UVic law to promote the recovery and resurgence of Indigenous legal orders across the continent. This new centre will cement the role of UVic scholars as global leaders partnering with Indigenous communities and peoples seeking to articulate and apply their laws to contemporary challenges.”

Dr. Susan Breau, dean of law, University of Victoria –

“The contributions we are to receive from the provincial government, the federal government and the Law Foundation of British Columbia toward the expansion of the Fraser building, which houses the law faculty, will provide us with a home for our Indigenous law program and the National Centre for Indigenous Laws. It is truly a historic moment for the faculty of law and, as the dean of the faculty, I wish to convey our profound gratitude to all of these funders who will make the realization of our vision possible.”

Dr. Val Napoleon, director, Indigenous law program and Indigenous Law Research Unit, and Law Foundation chair, Indigenous Justice and Governance –

“This physical structure represents a sanctuary where our laws, which enable us to be peoples, will be safe, and where both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students will learn about those laws, creating the foundation to a multijuridical Canada.”

Laura Hoversland, second-year student in Indigenous legal orders and Canadian common law, and member of the Teslin Tlingit Council –

 “I always wanted to be a lawyer, but I never imagined, because of the impact of systemic trauma, that I could ever do that. My dad is Norwegian and my mom is Tlingit. When I was younger, I thought graduating high school was good enough, but my dad encouraged me to keep going. It’s been a long journey from legal assistant to Aboriginal court worker to a senior justice analyst for an Indigenous non-profit (Council of Yukon First Nations) in Whitehorse, Yukon. Being in this program has not only changed my life, but will change the life of my seven-year-old daughter. I’m excited to see where it takes me.”

Andrew Weaver, MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head –  

“I was proud to participate in the unanimous passage of B.C.’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act in 2019. It was a vote for positive change. This innovative space for the National Centre for Indigenous Laws at UVic will give new lawyers the knowledge, skills and experience to uphold the rights of Indigenous peoples and will be an important contribution to reconciliation.”

Facts about UVic's Indigenous law program
  • The first cohort of 26 dual-degree law students started their studies in fall 2018.

    • The program is expected to reach its ongoing capacity of 100 full-time equivalent students over four years – 2018-21.

  • Students will graduate with two professional degrees and a deep understanding of Indigenous laws and governance, the knowledge and experience to pursue a career in common law and a strong sense of how to create and manage institutions across both spheres.

  • Graduates of the program will have an impact in areas such as environmental protection, Indigenous governance, economic development, housing, child protection and education.

  • The Indigenous law program aligns with federal and provincial government priorities and responds to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action for Indigenous peoples to take ownership and participate in Canada’s legal system.

  • The Indigenous law program directly answers the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action #50:

    • “to fund the establishment of Indigenous law institutes for the development, use, and understanding of Indigenous laws and access to justice in accordance with the unique cultures of Aboriginal peoples in Canada.”

  • And responds to United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Article #34:

    • “Indigenous peoples have the right to promote, develop and maintain their institutional structures and their distinctive customs, spirituality, traditions, procedures, practices and, in the cases where they exist, juridical systems or customs, in accordance with international human rights standards.”

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