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Jan Advocate 2017

THE ADVOCATE V O L . 7 5 P A R T 1 J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 7 25 abuses (the “Legacy Calls to Action”) and to propel Canadian/First Nations people towards a fairer future together (the “Reconciliation Calls to Action”). Together they address child welfare, education, language and culture, health, justice, sports, media, commemoration, memorial, the development of a Royal Proclamation of Reconciliation, and more. RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE LEGAL PROFESSION The legal profession is addressed specifically in Legacy Calls to Action 27 and 28. The TRC calls on law societies and law schools to ensure that legal professionals are educated about Aboriginal people and the law, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal–Crown relations. The calls to action also require legal professionals to be trained in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights and anti-racism. These calls to action were considered necessary because of the deficiencies noted by the TRC in the legal profession’s understanding and competency in representing individuals, communities, the government and the private sector when dealing with Aboriginalrelated issues. Equity for Aboriginal people in the legal system is addressed in Reconciliation Calls to Action 50 to 52. They call on the government to fund the establishment of Indigenous law institutes, to publish legal opinions on the scope and extent of Aboriginal and treaty rights, and to adopt just legal principles with respect to accepting Aboriginal title claims. Law schools and law societies across Canada have begun to take action, holding conferences and developing forums for dialogue to begin the process of transforming legal education and professional training to address the TRC’s calls to action.4 And while the calls to action require a transformative approach to the delivery of those services, the spirit of reconciliation demanded by the TRC requires us to do more than mandatory Aboriginal education. Dean Webber of University of Victoria argues that the calls to action (27 and 28) form part of a revolutionary project. As noted by Dean Sossin of Osgoode Hall Law School, they are situated under the report’s section on “Justice” (rather than “Education”). Justice is the desired outcome. Reconciliation, therefore, must also include ways to challenge non- Aboriginal Canadians’ complicity with colonialism. Given the role laws and lawyers have played in the long history of injustice toward Aboriginal people, it is imperative that the legal profession respond profoundly and thoughtfully to this challenge.


Jan Advocate 2017
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