The Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Native Studies
at the University of Alberta are pleased to announce funding from the Alberta Law Foundation
for the Wahkohtowin Law and Governance Lodge, an initiative to support
Indigenous law and governance through community-led collaborative research and
“This remarkable and generous grant will assist
greatly in helping us respond further to the Calls to Action in the 2015 “Final
Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada,” said. Paul
Paton, dean of the Faculty of Law.
“While we have made great strides, we have further yet to go. This
support is the culmination of over two years of engagement with the Foundation
in this area and provides us both an opportunity and challenge: to demonstrate
how research and community engagement can serve the public interest.”
The Wahkohtowin Law and Governance Lodge is inspired
by the TRC Call to Action #50, which relates to the “establishment of
Indigenous law institutes for the development, use and understanding of
Indigenous laws and access to justice in accordance with the unique cultures of
Aboriginal peoples in Canada.”
“This grant will support important work by our faculty
and students relating to Indigenous governance models and legal practices for
many years to come,” said Dean Paton.
Under the direction of Hadley Friedland, a professor
of the Faculty of Law, and Shalene Jobin, a professor of the Faculty of Native
Studies, the initiative will collaborate with Indigenous communities on the recognition,
revitalization and practice of Indigenous laws and governance principles. The
project also marks a major new partnership between the Faculties, the Alberta
Law Foundation and interested Indigenous communities in Alberta.
“While Hadley and Shalene have already worked hard to
build relationships with communities, the Alberta Law Foundation is providing
support for them to continue to build on and expand these relationships,” said
Chris Andersen, dean of the Faculty of Native Studies.
“It’s important to create spaces for Indigenous laws
to be recognized and renewed,” said Koren Lightning-Earle, Indigenous lawyer,
Indigenous initiatives liaison with the Law Society of Alberta and former
president of the Indigenous Bar Association. “The Faculties of Law and Native
Studies and the Alberta Law Foundation are honouring those Indigenous laws by
creating such a space and by providing funding for their revitalization.
Initiatives like this one introduce Indigenous laws to all students, which will
ultimately create better lawyers and a better justice system,” said the law
“Researching Indigenous law and governance is hard
work because it is essentially rebuilding Indigenous lawfulness and
citizenries,” said Val Napoleon, director of the Indigenous Law Research Unit,
University of Victoria, in heartily welcoming the news of the Wahkohtowin Law
and Governance Lodge as a sister centre. “Our experience is that there is a
deep hunger for Indigenous law and governance research right across this
country.” The Wahkohtowin Law and Governance Lodge will significantly increase
the capacity to do this sort of work at the invitation of and in collaboration
with Indigenous groups and communities in Canada.
The two-year grant will support the initial
development of Wahkohtowin Law and Governance Lodge using the experiences of
its two leads. Jobin developed and runs the Indigenous Governance Program at
the Faculty of Native Studies. Friedland helped create and lead the Indigenous
Law Research Unit at the University of Victoria Faculty of Law. Alongside
community engagement officer Jodi Stonehouse, Jobin and Friedland will develop
working relationships within interested partner communities, collaboratively
determine the scope and need for the work that can be accomplished, work on a
pilot project, make accessible law and governance resources, and develop and
offer workshops and community-led co-taught, land-based learning opportunities.
During the initial phase, in conjunction with James Muir, the Faculty of Law’s
associate dean of research, Jobin and Friedland will also focus on building the
organizational structure of the project and a robust partnership between the
“The Alberta Law Foundation is very pleased to provide
funding for this innovative project. The project advances one of the key
objects of the Foundation which is to support Indigenous legal programs,” said
Darlene Scott, QC, chair of the Alberta Law Foundation.
The Alberta Law Foundation, established under the
Legal Profession Act, is the recipient of the interest which banks, credit
unions, trust companies and treasury branches pay on clients' funds that are
held in lawyers' pooled trust accounts. With those funds, the Foundation makes
grants to non-profit organizations to advance legal research, law reform,
public legal education, Indigenous legal programs and access to direct legal
services by individuals who cannot afford a lawyer.
In addition to the Alberta Law Foundation's generous
support, the Wahkohtowin Law and Governance Lodge is supported by the Faculty
of Native Studies and the Faculty of Law. It will be housed in the Faculty of
Law at the University of Alberta.
PHOTO CAPTION: From left, standing: Avery Letendre, James Muir, Dean Paul Paton, Dean Chris Andersen, Jodi Calahoo-Stonehouse. Sitting: Hadley Friedland, Shalene Jobin
PHOTO CAPTION: Aseniwuche Winewak community instructors and U of A students proudly display their tanned moose hide, which was the central activity of “The Wahkohtowin Project: Pedagogy and Practice through Community and Academic Indigenous-Based Learning Collaborations,” an on-the-land course that first launched in 2017.