Truth and Reconciliation

Canada’s Residential School System for Aboriginal children was a government-sponsored education system created to separate Aboriginal children from their families and cultural heritage, thereby assimilating them into Euro-Canadian society. The schools were in existence for more than 100 years, during which time approximately 30 percent of Indigenous children, or roughly 150,000, were placed in residential schools nationally. It is estimated that 6,000 of these students died while in attendance.

The Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA) was the result of the largest class-action lawsuit in Canada’s history, which recognized the damage inflicted by the residential schools and established a multi-billion-dollar fund to help former students in their recovery.  As part of the IRSSA, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) was created.  The TRC spent six years travelling to all parts of Canada to hear from survivors, resulting in the release of the Calls to Action Report in June 2015.  The Calls to Action Report outlines 94 areas that need to be addressed as part of the reconciliation process.

Call to Action #27 specifically addresses the legal profession and states:

“We call upon the Federation of Law Societies of Canada to ensure that lawyers receive appropriate cultural competency training, which includes the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal – Crown relations. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.” 

Recognizing the importance of Canada’s Indigenous peoples and the advancement of reconciliation, the Law Society of Saskatchewan has committed to responding to Call to Action #27.


New Resources and Upcoming CPD Opportunities:

  • TRC Call to Action #27 Training: The Blanket Exercise
    Wed Aug 8, 2018 (Regina) | Thurs Sept 6, 2018 (Saskatoon)
    Qualifies for 3 CPD Hours, Which also qualify for Ethics
    Details and Registration

  • The Advocates’ Society, in partnership with the Indigenous Bar Association and the Law Society of Ontario, developed the Guide for Lawyers Working with Indigenous Peoples as a resource for litigators who are working with Indigenous peoples.  The Guide is intended to act as a resource for lawyers to learn about important historical and cultural elements that provide context for the professional relationship between an Indigenous person and their lawyer.  The Guide also provides practical tools to help lawyers represent Indigenous clients as effectively as possible.

  • But I Was Wearing a Suit is a mini documentary about the racism that Indigenous lawyers and law students face within the legal profession. It is a grassroots project of a group of Indigenous Lawyers, produced with the support of the Continuing Legal Education Society of BC and the Law Society of BC.


Completed CPD Activities:

The 2018 Annual General Meeting of the Law Society of Saskatchewan featured a two-hour CPD Panel Discussion entitled The Truth and Reconciliation Commission - Implications for the Legal Profession. Our panel of Professor Larry Chartrand, The Honorable Judge G. Morin, and Leanne Bellegarde, Q.C. discussed the question from their individual viewpoints and offered some actionable suggestions for furthering the reconciliation process in the legal community.

A full-day Continuing Professional Development seminar entitled “TRC Workshop: Gladue Reports and FASD Training” took place in September 2017 in Saskatoon. Shana Mohr and Tanya Beauchamp from the FASD Network led the morning session which focussed on ethical considerations when representing clients with FASD while Glen Luther, Q.C. led the afternoon session respecting the principles arising from R. v. Gladue.

A full-day Continuing Professional Development workshop was held in March of 2017 where academics and an Elder presented to more than 90 benchers, lawyers, judges, mediators and Law Society staff.  In addition, the Law Society has developed a three-part webinar CPD series focusing on the history of residential schooling, the history of Crown-Métis relations in Canada and advancing reconciliation with the Métis Nation, and the impact of Indian Residential Schools on the court system.

Members wishing to purchase recorded versions may contact the CPD Department at  The details of available programs are as follows:

  • Law Society AGM: The Truth and Reconciliation Commission - Implications for the Legal Profession (CPD-198)
    Thurs April 26, 2018
    Cost: $120 (+5% GST) = $126
    Qualifies for 2 CPD hours, which also qualify for Ethics

  • TRC Call to Action #27 Webinar Series: “Reconciliation in the Courtroom – It’s Required!” (CPD-173)
    May 29, 2017 
    Presenters: Judge Morin and Eleanore Sunchild
    Cost: $50.00 (+5% GST) = $52.50 
    Qualifies for 1 CPD hour, which also qualifies for Ethics

  • TRC Call to Action #27 Webinar Series: The Métis Nation: Reconciliation and Daniels v. Canada (CPD-168)
    May 3, 2017 
    Presenter: Kathy Hodgson-Smith
    Cost: $50.00 (+5% GST) = $52.50
    Qualifies for 1 CPD hour, which also qualifies for Ethics
  • Truth and Reconciliation Training for the Legal Profession Workshop (CPD-152) - AM Session
    March 13, 2017
    Presenters: Aimée Craft and  Prof. John Burrows
    Cost $125 (+5% GST) = $131.25
    Qualifies for 2.5 CPD hours, which also qualifies as Ethics

  • TRC Call to Action #27 Webinar Series: Canada's Residential Schools - How Did We Get Here? Where Do We Go from Here? (CPD-167)
    March 9, 2017
    Presenter: Professor Jim Miller
    Cost: $50 (+5% GST) = $52.50
    Qualifies for 1 CPD hour, which also qualifies as Ethics

The Law Society’s Equity and Diversity Committee continues to consider other types of programming and resources to address Call to Action #27.  Suggestions can be made to Barbra Bailey, Policy Counsel, who can be reached at:


Additional Resources:

The following resources may assist our members to enhance their cultural competency in accordance with Call to Action #27:

What is Reconciliation

  • A video featuring the Honourable Justice Murray Sinclair, TRC Chair, explaining the reconciliation process


Resources from the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation

Summary of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission:  Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future

  • The Commission heard from more than 6,000 witnesses, most of whom survived the experience of living in the schools as students. This volume is a summary of the discussion and findings contained in the Commission’s final multi-volume report, which discusses what the Commission did and how it went about its work, as well as what it heard, read, and concluded about the schools and afterwards, based on all the evidence available to it. 

TRC YouTube Channel – videos explaining many aspects of the TRC process, including the following, which provide an overview of the TRC purpose and process:

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP)

  • Adopted by the General Assembly of the UN in 2007, UNDRIP is the most comprehensive international instrument on the rights of indigenous peoples. It establishes a universal framework of minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of the indigenous peoples of the world and it elaborates on existing human rights standards and fundamental freedoms as they apply to the specific situation of indigenous peoples.

Office of the Treaty Commissioner for Saskatchewan

  • The mandate of the Office of the Treaty Commissioner (OTC) is to facilitate a bilateral process to discuss treaty and jurisdictional issues between Saskatchewan First Nations and the government of Canada, with the government of Saskatchewan present as an observer.  
  • The OTC works to make sure the people of Saskatchewan have a good understanding of treaties, the treaty relationship and reconciliation, through the education system, offering a speakers bureauholding events and sharing the stories of reconciliation initiatives taking place throughout Saskatchewan.
  • The OTC has a number of resources available to groups and individuals looking to learn and educate.

Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada: First Nations in Saskatchewan

  • Information about the 70 First Nations in Saskatchewan and the Treaties that cover the Province of Saskatchewan.

Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations

  • The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) represents 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan. The Federation is committed to honouring the spirit and intent of the Treaties, as well as the promotion, protection and implementation of the Treaty promises that were made more than a century ago.

Native Law Centre at the University of Saskatchewan

  • The Native Law Centre was founded in 1975 to facilitate access to legal education for Aboriginal peoples, to promote the development of the law and the legal system in Canada in ways which better accommodate the advancement of Aboriginal peoples and communities, and to disseminate information concerning Aboriginal peoples and the law.

Law Society of Saskatchewan Benchers' Digest Summer 2017 "National Aboriginal Day: Respecting Diversity"