The University of Victoria’s Law School is the world’s first to combine the study of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous law, enabling people to work across the two types of law and to build partnerships across the two legal systems.
Law students will graduate with two professional degrees, one in Canadian Common Law and one in Indigenous Legal Orders. Studying Indigenous Law will benefit many areas such as environmental protection, Indigenous governance, economic development, housing, child protection and education. The joint degree program was conceived by two of Canada’s foremost Indigenous legal experts, both of whom are at UVic: John Borrows, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Law, and Val Napoleon, Law Foundation Chair in Aboriginal Justice and Governance as well as the director of the Indigenous Law Research Unit at UVic. As Burrows explains: “Indigenous law looks to nature and to the land to provide principles of law and order and ways of creating peace between peoples; whereas the common law looks to old cases in libraries to decide how to act in the future.”
Val Napoleon was also a recent guest on our podcast.
While interviewing Val, at one point I had a truly out-of-body experience, seeing myself rise up above the interview and remarking to myself how I couldn’t wait to hear the episode play. Val is a truly fascinating thinker – having gone back to earn her law degree when she was already a grandmother, although by that time she already had her PhD!
In our interview, I heard Val’s respect and love of the law in general. As she said in our podcast interview: “My understanding of the potential of law, including Indigenous law, is that one of the things that it offers are the basics of civility. How do we situate ourselves to one another, how do we understand obligations and rights and process in terms of what we do. How we solve problems.”
I’d like to invite you into my co-host Gordon White’s living room, where we taped the episode with Val. Come and join us.