The Indigenous Law Certificate: Learn and contribute to your community

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It is a unique program that will deal with indigenous legal systems, indigenous legal traditions as we live them, as we understand them. We have developed a program that is inspired by the First Nations way of doing things to transmit knowledge.

Indigenous law and Indigenous ways of knowing were and still are not well understood. The people who will be participating in the program, starting with members of the Indigenous communities, will first learn about the laws of their Nation, then about Canadian law and how they can work and combine the two. It will be a challenge, but it is possible.

The vision of justice is not the same in our Nations. They are two completely different concepts. That’s why it’s important for me to take part in this training.

We are talking about our natural laws, our principles, our values that are ours, what we say about justice. We don’t even use these words in our languages, law or legal; they are more concepts that are specific to us, to our way of life and to who we are as an identity.

The courses are going to be taught sometimes by First Nations people, maybe Inuit people as well, and then there is going to be the inclusion of Elders who are going to bring teachings.

The idea came up to really find a way to welcome the Indigenous learners from the different communities, to welcome them from the Indigenous legal orders, from their world; from the learners as well, from their cultural background. They carry the law, and it’s really about reviving those elements.

The Indigenous Law Certificate Program at the University of Ottawa’s Civil Law Section offers a unique opportunity for Indigenous students to make a difference in their communities. Designed to meet the unique educational needs of Indigenous people, this innovative program enables students to develop a thorough understanding of Indigenous legal systems and their interaction with state laws. In addition to fostering the development of Indigenous communities and balancing power relations with non-Indigenous people, the program aims to encourage shared thinking towards wellness and to develop more harmonious and respectful relationships in Canadian society.

The certificate confirms that First Nations, Metis and Inuit legal orders are necessary to foster mutual understanding and respect between Indigenous and First Nations people. This program solidifies the foundation of this relationship in state and Indigenous law.

Sylvestre Desterres, Innu

If you are looking to make a difference in your community, the Indigenous Law Certificate in French program at the University of Ottawa may be the training you need to do so. Initiated by Professor Eva Ottawa, an Atikamekw Nehirowiskwew member of the Manawan community, this program has helped the first cohort of Indigenous learners to take ownership of their legal systems while minimizing the culture shock they experienced while studying law.

This one-year, 30-credit certificate program provides the foundation for successful completion of the civil law degree program and then moves on to practice, graduate law school or the J.D. program offered by the Common Law Section. This program is the only one of its kind in French in Canada, making it a valuable resource for Indigenous students seeking to learn about Indigenous law in a French language educational setting.

La formation du certificat en droit autochtone m’a permis de me reconnaitre dans le domaine du droit. Nous avons notre propre concept de vie et nos propres lois et cela est fondamental de les reconnaitre et de nous reconnaitre dans ce pays

Martha-Karine Awashish, Atikamekw Nehirowisknew

The program values the role of Elders in transmitting knowledge and enables learners to locate the various sources and foundations of Indigenous law and to understand the role of stories, tales, legends and ceremonies. Learners develop critical thinking skills about the interaction of Indigenous and state law. Students learn to communicate, name and locate the fundamental concepts of Indigenous legal orders and learn about conflict resolution within communities. The program also provides essential tools for Indigenous communities to promote their own legal orders.

The Indigenous Law Certificate program in French at the University of Ottawa’s Civil Law Section offers significant advantages to Indigenous students seeking to develop their legal skills. If you are an Indigenous student and are interested in learning more, we encourage you to click on the link below to access the program page.

This program allowed me to discover the Law as it is understood by the Innu. For me, it is important not to forget the heritage of our ancestors and their vision of the world, their path and their knowledge are an important basis for our future. This certificate allowed me to have a more distant vision and to want to pursue studies to dedicate myself to Indigenous issues!

Doris Bossum, Innu

The Indigenous Law Certificate Program helped me understand that law for us as Indigenous people is a way of life in itself. These rights were never written down because they didn’t have to be. We all carry it within each of us, they were and have always been deeply rooted in being part of our identity, who we were and who we still are today. I understood that the right for me is not something that can be attributed to someone as a privilege but rather as something that we must apply every day in our relationships with others, our environment, and this, in the greatest respect to ourselves, others and what surrounds us

Jessica Cleary, Atikamekw Nehirowisknew
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