Today we were lucky enough to have University of Ottawa Faculty of Law professor Dr. Larry Chartrand share his knowledge on the subject. Dr. Chartrand discussed the importance of incorporating Indigenous elements of law into what we presently understand to be the law in Canada.
The Canadian government takes pride in being a bijuralist country which recognizes both civil and common law systems. Dr. Chartrand spoke on the very Eurocentric nature of the myth of Canada as a bijuralist rather than multijuralist nation. He explained that this myth “denies the relevance and legitimacy of Metis or Cree legal traditions” as well as other Indigenous legal traditions and systems.
Ethnocentric views, such as the doctrine of reception, threaten to prevent law students from understanding the impacts of colonization and embracing Canada’s rich multi-juridical history, Dr. Chartrand cautions. He calls upon law schools to educate the lawyers and judges of tomorrow on aspects of Indigenous legal systems so that we may apply them in relevant legal disputes. Law schools “need to consider how they can better ‘Indigenize’ the law school curriculum so that it is inclusive of all legal traditions within its sphere of influence,” which may involve offering courses such as “Indigenous Peoples’ Law” alongside teaching the civil and common law systems. Some schools have already began to implement such changes.
Dr. Chartrand is one of five speakers who has spoken or will be speaking at the ALSA event this week. An excellent seminar was delivered yesterday by Dr. David Arora wherein he discussed harvesting wild mushrooms. Later this week we welcome Dr. Leroy Little Bear, Aaju Peter, and Dr. Gordon Christie who will also be presenting on Indigenous legal traditions and Aboriginal law.