Lawyer Jeff Nicholls on launching Indigenous law and history educational course Home on Native Land

RAVEN Trust is seeking CPD accreditation for ten-part educational course with legal experts

Lawyer Jeff Nicholls on launching Indigenous law and history educational course Home on Native Land
Jeff Nicholls

In the process of supporting litigation involving First Nations, RAVEN Trust, a charity and Indigenous rights advocate, saw the need for a legal-education resource promoting reconciliation and detailing the experiences of Indigenous peoples in Canada.

RAVEN is seeking formal accreditation from law societies for Home on Native Land, a ten-part educational course including videos, cartoons, and lessons, covering treaties, the Indian Act and other legislation, Indigenous legal orders, and self-government. The sessions are free and are written and hosted by Anishinaabe comedian Ryan McMahon.

The course features Indigenous legal experts such as Val Napoleon, acting dean and law foundation chair of Indigenous justice and governance at the University of Victoria (UVic); John Borrows, Canada research chair in Indigenous law at UVic; and Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson, principal of White Raven Law Corporation and legal counsel to the Haida Nation.

“In the past decades, Indigenous law has played a significant role in shaping our society and economy,” says Jeff Nicholls, RAVEN’s president, and an associate with Ratcliff LLP, in Vancouver, practising Indigenous law. “Landmark rulings from the Supreme Court of Canada have given greater definition to Aboriginal rights, title, and self-government.”

“In the next decades, I predict the influence of Indigenous law will increase as we enact reconciliation. Indigenous peoples, local, provincial and federal governments, industry and civil society groups are collaborating in a new reality of respect for the jurisdiction of Indigenous Peoples.”

Home on Native Land provides legal professionals with material that they can use to fulfil their responsibilities, under the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action, to understand the history and legacy of residential schools and ensure equity for Indigenous people in the legal system, he says. TRC Call 27 urges the Federation of Law Societies of Canada to ensure Canadian lawyers are educated on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), Treaties, Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal–Crown relations.

“Our end goal with Home on Native Land is to equip people with the knowledge necessary to support, discuss, and make positive contributions to matters related to Indigenous Peoples,” says Nicholls. “I hope that Home on Native Land will help shift the national conversation towards a more informed, nuanced understanding of Indigenous perspectives and how to put reconciliation into action.”

RAVEN is working on having Home on Native Land accredited for a defined amount of professional development hours. “I encourage lawyers to explore ways of taking the course for credit individually or with others,” he says.

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