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Some Reflections of a Métis Law Student and Assistant Professor on Indigenous Legal Education in Canada

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posted on 2023-03-07, 21:18 authored by Scott FranksScott Franks

This Article is a reflection on some of my experiences as a Métis law student and assistant professor on the subject of Indigenous legal education in Canada. I introduce myself and what brought me to law school and describe some of my experiences as a law student, as a co-president of an Indigenous Students Association, and as a student organizer for an Indigenous law camp. I argue that a significant barrier to Indigenization and decolonization of Canadian legal education is the perseverance of an ideology rooted in settler colonialism and an individual affective commitment to its future, which is facilitated by racism. The existence and nature of this barrier is highlighted through an exploratory discussion of some of the experiences that are commonly shared by Indigenous law students and professors. I describe my approach to Indigenous legal education at the Lincoln Alexander School of Law (“Lincoln Alexander”) at X University in Toronto, Ontario, as one way to work towards facilitating efforts towards Indigenization and decolonization.

Although the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Final Report and Calls to Action (“Calls”) have significantly impacted Indigenization activities in Canadian legal education, choices to be made about how the Calls are to be implemented are not self-evident. Thus, as an assistant professor at Lincoln Alexander School of Law, I am now trying to decide how to do this work. I propose a pedagogy based on the deconstruction or critique of settler colonial and racial hierarchies embedded in the rule of law through critical methodologies. This deconstruction is necessary before we can effectively teach students about Indigenous legal orders. When we do teach Indigenous legal orders, we should consider teaching those orders in stand-alone courses or focusing on Indigenous legal methodologies in our courses. Finally, I briefly discuss a proposal for integrating Indigenous legal issues and perspectives in the curriculum.