In her powerful talk earlier this month about R v Barton and the death of Cindy Gladue, Professor Emma Cunliffe discussed the lack of cultural competency and respect for Indigenous lives shown by the lawyers involved in the case. She was later asked a question about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action regarding legal education. In her answer, she mentioned a recent blog post she had written on the subject, found here.
The blog she was talking about is called ReconciliationSyllabus. It was started by UVic law professors Gillian Calder and Rebecca Johnson last summer as “an invitation to law professors across Canada to gather together ideas about resources and pedagogies to support recommendation #28 of the TRC Calls to Action: the call for us to rethink both what and how we teach in our schools.” Here is a story about the blog’s origin.
The TRC Calls to Action that speak most directly to legal education read as follows:
- We call upon the Federation of Law Societies of Canada to ensure that lawyers receive appropriate cultural competency training, which includes the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal– Crown relations. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.
- We call upon law schools in Canada to require all law students to take a course in Aboriginal people and the law, which includes the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal–Crown relations. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and antiracism.
Since the blog’s launch, Professor Cunliffe and several other Canadian law professors (many of a known feminist bent) have taken up the invitation to reflect on the TRC’s recommendations. Check it out here, if you haven’t already: https://reconciliationsyllabus.wordpress.com/about/.
Here are some further thoughts about the Calls to Action
from UVic Dean Jeremy Webber:
from Professors Gillian Calder and Rebecca Johnson:
from Professor Lisa Kerr:
Professor Cunliffe’s talk, and the question about the TRC serves as an important reminder not to let this conversation die. Only by carrying the momentum forward can the TRC’s Calls be lifted off the page and into action. Seems like we have a lot of work to do.