Supporting renewed relationships with Indigenous peoples

From: Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

June 25, 2019 – Victoria, British Columbia

Indigenous peoples in Canada have unique laws and legal traditions. The Government of Canada recognizes the importance of revitalizing Indigenous legal systems and the significant role that Indigenous law institutes can play in helping Indigenous communities develop, use and understand their laws.

That’s why the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, on behalf of the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, today announced $9.1 million to support the construction of a national centre for Indigenous law at the University of Victoria. This funding stems from Budget 2019.

The national centre for Indigenous law will serve as an accessible space for engagement and discussion and will house Canada’s first joint degree program in Canadian Common Law and Indigenous Legal Orders (JD/JID) and the Indigenous Law Research Unit. The Department of Justice Canada is providing $173,300 over three years to the University of Victoria’s Faculty of Law to support the development of courses and field studies in Indigenous communities.

This announcement responds to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action 50 and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Government of Canada is proud of the progress made to date on implementing the Commission’s Calls to Action, but it recognizes that there is still more to do and that true reconciliation goes beyond the scope of the Calls to Action.

“Canada is firmly committed to implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action to ensure Indigenous peoples and knowledge are included and respected as we build a stronger Canada. The national centre for Indigenous law will create a space for conducting the research and providing the teaching necessary to ensure Indigenous laws will guide the paths of self-determination and reconciliation.”

– The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations

“Our government’s investment in the University of Victoria will create local jobs, and significant Indigenous input will go into the design and construction of the national centre for Indigenous law. The building will use innovative technology to teach and connect at a national and international level regarding Indigenous law.”

– The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development

“Indigenous peoples have formed and operated dynamic systems of justice from time immemorial. The construction of this space, and funding for the Faculty of Law, will support the necessary dialogue and exchange with Indigenous communities on the revitalization of Indigenous laws and legal traditions.”

– The Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

“Minister Bennett has been our greatest champion, and the recent federal contribution of $9.1 million to our national centre for Indigenous law is the exciting result. This commitment will enable us to build a strong, stable foundation from which to study, teach and learn Indigenous law as part of the great legal traditions of the world.”

– Val Napoleon, Director of the Indigenous Law Research Unit and of the JD/JID program and Law Foundation Professor of Aboriginal Justice and Governance, University of Victoria

“This is another major milestone for a history-making initiative for Indigenous peoples and a tremendous example of reconciliation in action. This investment will help build the physical structure for law students to harmonize Canadian laws and Indigenous legal orders, which will strengthen understanding and cooperation for all communities across the country.”

– The Honourable Melanie Mark, B.C. Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training

Quick facts

  • The national centre for Indigenous law will be constructed in respectful relationship to the headwaters of Bowker Creek in Coast and Straits Salish Territory.

  • Budget 2019 also proposed to provide $10 million over five years, starting in 2019-20, in support of Indigenous law initiatives across Canada, through the Justice Partnership and Innovation Program, to improve equality for Indigenous peoples in Canada’s legal system.

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