UVic will now offer the combined study of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous law to students — a world first.
The new four-year program will see students graduate with two professional degrees, one in Canadian Common Law and one in Indigenous Legal Orders.
Subject to approval from B.C.’s degree Authorization Act, the first intake is planned for September.
The university says the education will benefit areas such as environmental protection, Indigenous governance, housing, child protection and education.
Funding for the new program is included in the provinces 2018 budget, as one of several initiatives in B.C’s commitment to work with Indigenous peoples.
“This program builds on UVic’s longstanding commitment to, and unique relationship with, the First Peoples of Canada.” said UVic President Jamie Cassels in a statement. “This joint-degree program is also a direct response to a call of action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to establish Indigenous law institutes for the development, use and understanding of indigenous law.”
Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Law John Borrows, and the Law Foundation Chair in Aboriginal Justice and Governance Val Napoleon are credited with conceiving the program. They are said to be two of Canada’s foremost Indigenous legal experts.
The program includes mandatory field studies in Indigenous communities across Canada, aimed at introducing students to a diversity of Indigenous legal traditions.
A new Indigenous Legal Lodge is also planned to be built to join the program.