712 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 76 PART 5 SEPTEMBER 2018
call, we are discovering in many ways that each step forward reveals more
to be done.
At the Allard School of Law, we currently have the largest cohort of
Indigenous students in Canada, averaging 50–60 students out of 580 over
the three years of the J.D. program. Our faculty of 48 includes five full-time,
tenure-stream members who identify as Indigenous. Several Indigenous
members of the legal profession in Vancouver regularly teach for us
as adjunct professors. For over 20 years, Allard School of Law students
have staffed our Indigenous Community Legal Clinic. The clinic serves
hundreds of Indigenous clients every year, including approximately 400
full-representation files, with up to 30 student clinicians a year.
Given all of this, the Allard School of Law has both advantages and disadvantages
in terms of responding to the TRC Calls to Action. The advantage
is that we have a lot of people and a great deal of experience. But on the
other hand, there are few obvious next steps that will provide quick and
easy victories. In fact, if anything our experience has both reinforced the
urgency of moving forward in ways that are deep and lasting while simultaneously
showing how very difficult this is.
The best example of this is the call for a mandatory course. Since 2011,
all of our first-year students have taken a mandatory course on Aboriginal
and treaty rights. The course is a component of their Canadian constitutional
law requirement and does not cover everything that the TRC called
for, but it is a strong point of departure. We are working to strengthen this
course and to consider other ways to build reconciliation into our curriculum.
But in addition, we also encounter the stark reality that for some students,
a mandatory course raises questions and resentments and that these
play out in the classroom in contentious ways. All of this sharpens our
appreciation of the reconciliation challenge. None of this brings easy
Another example: last year we piloted a cultural competency certificate.
The pilot was very successful and deeply appreciated by those faculty and
students who participated. The time, energy and compassion committed to
this project by its leaders were immense, and students dedicated something
like 100 hours to various aspects of the program throughout the year. We
learned a great deal from the pilot. One key learning point was that cultural
awareness education cannot be thoughtfully delivered in large groups.
While we need to do more, it will not be by a straightforward “scaling up”
Our pilot raised many questions but at least one clear answer: we need
to keep doing this work. For the upcoming year, we are focusing on TRC