June 21, 2019

Law school continues to drive change toward Indigenous Strategy goals

New course teaches students about Indigenous business law
Indigenous Strategy and Law School Courses
The University of Calgary Faculty of Law has developed a new course, Indigenous Business Law

A new course for law students will provide insight and understanding into the context and opportunities for Indigenous and Métis economic development, further expanding the law school’s course offerings in Aboriginal and Indigenous Law, part of the University of Calgary’s goal of transforming ways of knowing, as set out in the Indigenous Strategy.

The course, Indigenous Business Law, will provide students with an understanding of common corporate structures for Indigenous business, and how these structures need to be adapted in the context of First Nations and Métis governance. The course will also provide a background on how industry partnerships with First Nations and the energy sector are developed and approved on the First Nation side.

"This course will provide the participants with an in-depth, practical examination of the legal and policy framework for establishing and operating business ventures both on- and off-reserve,” says Drew Lafond, a partner at MLT Aikins LLP in Calgary and co-instructor for the course. “We're excited to teach a course that will challenge students to design creative ways to work within these structures to implement and enhance Indigenous economic development."

Indigenous Business Law is another addition to the law school’s Aboriginal and Indigenous law course offerings, which includes two courses on Indigenous Peoples and the Law, a Residential Schools Litigation course, and a course on Indigenous Legal Traditions.

For all UCalgary Law students, building the base of understanding of Indigenous Peoples and their relation to Canada’s legal system begins on day one, with content that is included in the Foundations of Law and Justice I and II courses, intensive three-week block courses at the beginning of the fall and winter semesters.

In the fall, students have the opportunity to participate in a field trip to a local First Nation to learn about Indigenous law and Indigenous legal issues. The winter course has a focus on legal research, writing and oral advocacy, where students learn substantive aspects of Aboriginal law and the relationship between Indigenous Peoples and the state within a practice-oriented course. Indigenous speakers teach different aspects of the courses, including Indigenous law approaches to understanding treaty obligations. 

Elysa Darling, JD’16, a co-instructor for the new course, is excited to share her knowledge as part of the faculty’s Indigenous law curriculum.

“It’s great to see the law school as it continues to expand its Aboriginal and Indigenous law offerings, and help the university reach the goals set out in the Truth and Reconciliation Report’s Calls to Actions. I’m proud to play a role in educating future lawyers about the topic,” she says.