Osgoode Hall Law School of York University announced on June 21 specific actions that it will take to meet the urgent need of Reconciliation with Indigenous peoples envisioned by the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.
Osgoode’s enhanced commitment to Reconciliation, which has been identified as a top priority in the law school’s 2017-2020 Access Osgoode strategic plan, will involve the establishment of a Reconciliation Fund that will have an initial investment of $300,000 over the next three years.
The Reconciliation Fund will provide support for the following Indigenous initiatives at Osgoode:
- Three years of annual funding for the Anishinaabe Law Camp held each September at Neyaashiinigmiing (Cape Croker) in collaboration with the Chippewas of Nawash and the Debwewin Summer Internship program in collaboration with the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General.
- Establishment of Osgoode’s first Office of Indigenous and Reconciliation Initiatives.
- Strengthening and deepening ties with Indigenous communities by bringing Elders in Residence to Osgoode, as well as other experts and guests from Indigenous communities for Osgoode events, courses and programs.
- Programming in Skennen’kó:wa Gamig (formerly Hart House) as a centre for Indigenous community life at York University and other pan-University collaborations.
- Augmenting available funding sources for Osgoode Indigenous students.
- Enhancing the Indigenization of Osgoode’s curriculum, as well as research projects, exhibits and collaborations that enrich study and knowledge about Indigenous law and legal issues. (This builds on the success of Osgoode’s Intensive Program in Aboriginal Lands, Resources & Governments as one of North America’s premier experiential programs exploring legal issues relating to Indigenous peoples and Indigenous rights. The program celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2014.)
“Osgoode’s commitment to Reconciliation builds upon our past initiatives and reflects our shared goal for the Law School to play a leadership role among Canadian law schools in engaging with Indigenous communities, students and scholars and ensuring that our curriculum reflects Indigenous legal traditions and Indigenous justice issues,” said Osgoode Dean Lorne Sossin. “We want to make meaningful and lasting contributions as a law school to the larger Canadian imperative of Reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.”
The announcement of the Reconciliation Fund was made at the opening of Skennen’kó:wa Gamig, also on June 21, as a re-imagined ceremonial and community space for Indigenous community members at York.
The historic building is located in a wooded area beside Osgoode and will be the venue for the law school’s Honour Ceremony on June 23 for graduating Indigenous students and their families. Later that day, Cindy Blackstock, a Gitxsan activist for child welfare and executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, will be awarded an honorary degree at Osgoode Convocation.