Leading First Nations Legal Education in Canada

Submitted by Andrea Hilland

video platform video management video solutions video player

The UBC Faculty of Law is a leader in First Nations legal education in Canada and offers Aboriginal curriculum content as well as social, cultural, and academic support to Aboriginal law students through the First Nations Legal Studies Program. The program has much to celebrate this year!

UBC Law was pleased to have fourteen Aboriginal students graduate with Juris Doctor degrees (formerly known as Bachelor of Laws). One other Aboriginal student graduated from the Masters of Law program, making for a total of fifteen Aboriginal graduates from the program.

On June 2, 2009 UBC celebrated one of its most distinguished alumni, Alfred Scow LL.B. (1961) LL.D. (1997). Dr. Scow, from the Kwicksutaineuk Nation, was the first Aboriginal person to earn a Bachelor of Laws, practice law, and receive a judicial appointment in British Columbia. Dr. Scow is credited for performing a major role in educating non-Aboriginal people about the legal, cultural, social, and historical issues facing First Nations. Now retired, Dr. Scow continues to serve the Aboriginal and UBC communities.

After sharing office space with the Native Courtworkers and Counseling Association of British Columbia for several years, the UBC First Nations Legal Clinic hosted a celebration of its new office space on April 27, 2009. The Clinic originally opened its doors on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside in 1995 with the dual mission of providing legal services to Aboriginal clients and practical education to law students.

On February 27, 2009 the First Nations Legal Studies Program co-hosted a conference entitled “Environmental Racism: Tar Sands, Colonialism, and Resistance” at the UBC First Nations House of Learning. Jada Voyageur, a youth advocate from the Athabasca Fort Chipewyan First Nation, provided the highlight of the conference by describing the on-the-ground impact of the tar sands on her community.

The First Nations Legal Studies Program is pleased to welcome Associate Professor Darlene Johnston to the UBC Faculty of Law. Darlene Johnston earned a B.A. from Queen’s University, and an LL.B. and LL.M. from the University of Toronto. In 2008, she was awarded the designation of Indigenous People’s Counsel from the Indigenous Bar Association of Canada.

Prior to accepting her appointment at UBC Law, she was an Associate Professor and Aboriginal Student Advisor at the University of Toronto. Her teaching areas include Indigenous Legal Traditions, Canadian Aboriginal and Treaty Rights, and Law & Colonialism. Her current research focuses on
the relationship between totemic identity, territoriality, and governance. Darlene Johnston joins full-time Indigenous professors Gordon Christie (Inupiat/Inuvialuit Nations) and June McCue (Ned’u’ten Nation) at the UBC Faculty of Law.

Another staff change saw Jennifer Duncan (Dene Nation), former First Nations Legal Studies Program Advisor, return to the practice of law. Andrea Hilland (Nuxalk Nation) has now assumed Jennifer’s role at UBC Law. Prospective Aboriginal law students are encouraged to contact Andrea at 604-822- 2177 or hilland@law.ubc.ca to discuss UBC Law admission requirements for Aboriginal applicants.

a place of mind, The University of British Columbia

First Nations House of Learning
1985 West Mall,
Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z2, CA
Tel: 604-822-8940

Emergency Procedures | Accessibility | Contact UBC  | © Copyright The University of British Columbia