Canada pledges support for revitalization of Indigenous laws in Saskatoon

By Amanda Jerome

Law360 Canada (July 9, 2021, 12:12 PM EDT) -- On July 8, Canada announced its support for the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) with its project “to revitalize Indigenous laws across First Nation communities.”

According to a government release, supporting this initiative “aligns with the government of Canada’s response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) Call to Action 50.”

Call to Action (CTA) 50 “calls upon the federal government to collaborate with Indigenous organizations to fund Indigenous law institutes for the development, use and understanding of Indigenous laws and access to justice in accordance with the unique cultures of Indigenous peoples in Canada,” the release explained, noting that supporting this call “aligns with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which sets out the right of Indigenous peoples to maintain and strengthen their distinct legal institutions.”

 Justice Minister David Lametti

Justice Minister David Lametti

“The government will walk the shared path of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, and remain focused on implementing the commitments regarding CTA 50,” said David Lametti, minister of justice and attorney general of Canada, in a statement. 

“I am pleased to support the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations project that will help increase communities’ understanding and knowledge of Indigenous laws. The funding we are announcing today will add to our reconciliation efforts to support Indigenous communities and organizations as they work to revitalize their legal traditions,” he added.

According to the release, the Department of Justice has provided funding for “$489,486 over three years through its Justice Partnership and Innovation Program.”

The “Revitalization of Indigenous Laws project is to update” the FSIN Framework for First Nations Justice System and “revitalize Indigenous Laws of First Nations,” the release added.

“Developed in 2013, the Framework was a response to 23 separate resolutions passed by the FSIN Chiefs-in-Assembly that mandate the establishment of First Nations justice system to strengthen individuals, families, and communities through the restoration of traditional Indigenous justice,” the release explained, noting that the project will include “interviews with knowledge keepers and Elders across First Nation communities in Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan to gain greater insight into Indigenous laws, practices and processes.”

“Together, the FSIN works diligently with other First Nations leaders to describe both the historical context and experience of an inherent and traditional Indigenous justice system. It is important to intergrade traditional justice practices with today’s society and is part of Reconciliation,” said FSIN vice-chief Edward Lerat in a statement.

“Indigenous peoples in Canada have unique laws and legal traditions. We are confident that this funding will help make a real difference for Indigenous communities doing the important work of revitalizing their legal systems,” said Terry Duguid, parliamentary secretary to the minister of economic development and official languages and to the minister of environment and climate change, in a statement.

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