By Barbra Bailey
Policy Counsel, Law Society of Saskatchewan
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 Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA) recognized the damage inflicted by the residential schools and established the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC). 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 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. As part of our response, the Law Society has dedicated a section of our website to education about the Residential School System and Truth and Reconciliation. We will continue to provide more information and resources on this site as they become available.