In September 2017, the Allard School of Law launched its Cultural Competency Certificate – a cultural competency training program designed to start a dialogue on issues disproportionately affecting Indigenous peoples and communities, with an emphasis on the interaction between Indigenous peoples and the Canadian legal system. This training program was initiated as a response to the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action, which specifically called on law schools to implement “skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.” Through various experiential learning opportunities, students, faculty, and staff of the Allard School of Law engaged in six modules of self-reflection, discussion, and exposure to Indigenous traditions and laws, with an aim to foster cultural competence. The training focused on distilling what decolonization means to the practice of law and recognizing the differing perspectives that each individual brings to the legal community.
The training began on September 18, 2017 with a Musqueam welcome from Victor Guerin at a one-day Indigenous Awareness Retreat. Enrollment in the program involved participation in monthly modules that spanned the academic year, with corresponding Talking Circles and journaling reflection periods. Modules included watching We Were Children, a film on Indian Residential Schools, a speaker series on oral history, elder-led teachings by the Musqueam First Nation Elder Grant, and attending events during Indigenous Awareness Week. Finally, the program closed with a field trip to the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre and a banquet to award each participant with their certificate.