Canadian legal firms like Donich Law have been looking at the findings put forward by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which identified gaps in the system related to Indigenous people.
These findings were published in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action in 2015, which also came with a request for the Canadian legal industry, Donich Law, and law firms across the country: the Canadian lawyers be properly educated on the history and legacy of residential schools, as well as any treaties, rights and legal issues concerning Indigenous people.
The Law Society of Alberta has also been looking into the findings, and has decided to make changes to their requirements for legal practice. Starting 2021, all lawyers who operate in Alberta, regardless of affiliation, will be required to take a course on Indigenous cultural competency.
Law Society of Alberta President Kent Teskey stated that they rarely opt to make a course mandatory, but this is a special case, as he, and the regulatory body as a whole, feel that everyone needs to be on the same page on this matter.
He says that if lawyers are to provide justice to the people of Alberta, all of them, without regard for affiliation or practice area, need to possess a baseline knowledge of such issues.
Patti Laboucane-Benson, known for providing courses and information on the historical trauma that the Métis and First Nations have gone through, has gone on record to say that the new six-hour mandatory course is a good first step for the Canadian legal industry.
She says that the Canadian legal system needs to cast aside outdated ideas regarding Indigenous people, and this is a good first step, but it’s just one part of the overall process. Laboucane-Benson added that the justice system needs to understand what the underlying root cause of the issue is to deal with it permanently.
Lawyer who will be taking the mandatory course don’t have to worry about the costs of this new mandatory course, as the Law Society of Alberta will cover the costs of training for all lawyers active in the province. In turn, lawyers have at least 18 months to complete the training in compliance with requirements.