John Borrows (right), Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Law, and Val Napoleon, Law Foundation Chair in Aboriginal Justice and Governance, conceived the Indigenous law program. (Keri Coles/News Staff)

John Borrows (right), Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Law, and Val Napoleon, Law Foundation Chair in Aboriginal Justice and Governance, conceived the Indigenous law program. (Keri Coles/News Staff)

Feds pledge $9.1 million for national Indigenous law and reconciliation building at UVic

Investment announced with 2019 federal budget

The federal government’s new budget, unveiled Tuesday, includes funding towards a national centre for Indigenous law and reconciliation at the University of Victoria (UVic).

The building will be home to the world’s first ever joint degree in Indigenous legal orders and Canadian common law (JD/JID), which was launched at UVic last September and partially funded by the federal government – who allocated $2.5 million for the program’s operating costs in 2018.

The new building will also house the Indigenous Law Research Unit (ILRU), a centre for Indigenous law that has partnered with over 50 Indigenous communities across Canada on legal research questions related to land, citizenship, human rights, governance and more.

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According to a UVic press release, the building will be designed to reflect the “modern and traditional values of Coast Salish peoples” and “the long-standing relationships between the law school and the Songhees, Esquimalt and WSÁNEĆ peoples.”

“We are grateful to the federal government for its support of the University of Victoria and this national centre for Indigenous law which will play a vital role in helping to grow a more just and inclusive Canada—socially, economically and legally,” said UVic President Jamie Cassels in a statement.

The centre will be built as an addition to the current UVic law building and host to conferences, public workshops, research and partnerships for faculty, students and advisors.

Val Napoleon, director of the ILRU and JD/JID program, said the federal government’s financial commitment will “figuratively and literally…enable us to build a strong, stable foundation from which to teach and study Indigenous law as one of the great legal traditions of the world.”

Planning for the new building is still in the early concept stage.

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nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

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