Judges invite students, professors to join them in learning more about Indigenous Peoples and the justice system

Seminar co-hosted by Court of Queen's Bench takes place at Law Centre January 28

Helen Metella - 24 January 2020

A large contingent of Alberta's judges will join University of Alberta law students and law professors on January 28, to seek a deeper understanding of Indigenous Peoples's relationship with Canada's justice system.

The three-hour seminar, Indigenous Peoples and the Justice System, is a joint initiative of the Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta and the University of Alberta.

"Indigenous perspectives have not historically been embedded in our legal systems - in our legislation, court decisions, advocacy," said Chief Justice Mary Moreau of the Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta.

"This is changing and those of us who are working in the justice system, such as judges and faculty members, as well as those who are just being introduced to our justice system, such as students, all need to be part of this learning."

The topics that will be addressed at the seminar are "among some of the core considerations for the justice system to be aware of," said Moreau.

Four presentations will cover the following: Indigenous Peoples and the governments of Alberta; Indigenous legal landscapes of Alberta; Indigenous lawyers and the justice system; and Indigenous laws and the justice system.

Presenters are Shalene Jobin, an associate professor in the Faculty of Native Studies and co-director of the Wahkohtowin Legal Governance Lodge (WLGL); the Honourable Leonard S. (Tony) Mandamin, a recently retired Federal Court of Canada judge; Koren Lightning-Earle, legal counsel for WLGL; and Professor Darcy Lindberg of the Faculty of Law, respectively.

The Court is focused on furthering the process of reconciliation in Canada by reaching out to Indigenous and other communities, said Justice Steve Mandziuk, the incoming co-chair of the Court's Diversity, Inclusion and Access Steering Committee.

Recent outreach by the Court includes last fall's initiative to bring eagle feathers to all three levels of Alberta's courts so Indigenous witnesses can use them to swear their oaths; a symposium last January in Calgary, which included a guided tour of an Indigenous courtroom; and a judicial education seminar last May hosted by the Court of Queen's Bench and the Court of Appeal of Alberta, which focused on the Calls to Action contained in the "Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada." The Court of Queen's Bench also hosts an annual Indigenous Career Day for high school students. The next one will be held in Edmonton on March 4.

"We are hoping (the January 28) symposium expands people's awareness and encourages participants to seek out other learning opportunities because knowledge improves understanding," said Mandziuk.

Indigenous Peoples and the Justice System takes place Tuesday, January 28, in McLennan Ross Hall at the Law Centre from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. It will be followed by a reception hosted by the Canadian Bar Association from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m.