The Law Society of Saskatchewan embraces reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples as a priority for our staff, our membership, and the public we serve.
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) addresses the human rights of Indigenous Peoples, both individually and collectively. UNDRIP emphasizes the rights of Indigenous Peoples to “live in dignity, to maintain and strengthen their own institutions, cultures and traditions, and to pursue their self-determined development, in keeping with their own needs and aspirations.”
In June 2021, Canada passed legislation to advance implementation of UNDRIP in order to respect, protect, and fulfill the rights of Indigenous Peoples. This is an important step, identified by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and reinforced by the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls as a necessary framework for reconciliation.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) began work as part of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. This Agreement was the result of the largest class-action lawsuit in Canada’s history, which recognized the damage inflicted by Canada’s Indian Residential School System.
Canada’s Residential School System was a government-sponsored education system created to separate Indigenous 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 TRC was a process to help guide Canadians through the difficult discovery of the facts behind residential schools. The TRC was also meant to lay the foundation for lasting reconciliation across Canada.
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 lawyers 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.”
The Law Society of Saskatchewan recognizes the significance of the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and is committed to implementing the Calls to Action. The Law Society has a mandate to regulate lawyers and the practice of law in the public interest, including a duty to protect the public by assuring the integrity, knowledge, skill, proficiency, and competence of members.
Several of the other Calls to Action, while not specifically directed at Law Societies, relate to legal issues currently impacting Indigenous Peoples and the Law Society also recognizes a role to play in their implementation. Reconciliation efforts will be ongoing and the Law Society acknowledges this work needs to be informed by Indigenous Peoples.
On June 22, 2018, the Board of the Law Society approved the creation of a Truth and Reconciliation Advisory Group to guide the Law Society’s reconciliation efforts. The Law Society is grateful to members of the Advisory Group for their guidance and expertise.
The Truth and Reconciliation Advisory Group provides advice to the Law Society on issues within the mandate of the Law Society affecting Indigenous Peoples in Saskatchewan with a current focus on four priority areas:
The Law Society will provide updated information as these priority areas of action advance.
|Legal Resource Library Materials||Podcast Episodes||News||Learning Events|
|The Law Society supports the Gladue Rights Research Database||S2E1_3 Beth Bilson – The Impact of MMIWG National Inquiry||Archives - Truth and Reconciliation News - Law Society of Saskatchewan||Developing and Engaging in a Reconciliation Mapping Exercise|
|The Law Society’s Legal Resource Library has a collection of Indigenous titles and |
reading ideas about residential schools and Indigenous perspectives.
|S2E1 – Macrina Badger and Katrina Swan – National Inquiry MMIWG||Indigenous Canada course from the University of Alberta Faculty of Native Studies|
|S1E1 – Prof. Keith Carlson – Gladue Rights Database|
The Law Society regulates lawyers and the practice of law in the public interest in the province of Saskatchewan, which includes the shared lands of Treaties 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, and the homeland of the Métis. We pay respect to past, present, and future generations of all Indigenous Peoples and pledge to continue our path of truth and reconciliation for as long as the ‘sun shines and [the] river flows’.