June is National Indigenous History Month, and June 21st marks National Indigenous Peoples Day. This day is meant to celebrate the many rich and vibrant Indigenous cultures in Canada. To celebrate here at LawMatters, we invited the Truth and Reconciliation Working Group at CLBC to make a guest post on our blog!
The CLBC Truth and Reconciliation Working Group was established in October of 2017 to explore how Courthouse Libraries could respond to the TRC Calls to Action. Over the last 2+ years, our group has undertaken a number of initiatives with the goals of becoming a more culturally inclusive organization and advancing the ongoing process of reconciliation between Indigenous and settler communities in Canada.
The resources listed below are meant to amplify the voices of Indigenous peoples and organizations within Canada. We want to provide you with topical information on legal issues and challenges facing Indigenous peoples – topics that you may be receiving questions about in your libraries, such as the Wet’suwet’en conflict or policing and racism in Canada. Read on for links to Indigenous organizations, trusted sources of online legal information, referral options for legal help, recommended titles for your print collections, and upcoming webinars on these topics. Please contact us with any questions!
Assembly of First Nations: AFN is a national advocacy organization representing First Nation citizens in Canada.
BC Assembly of First Nations: the BC chapter of AFN, this organization represents the 203 First Nations in BC and advocates for the implementation of Aboriginal Title, Rights, and Treaty Rights.
Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs: UBCIC works toward the implementation, exercise, and recognition of Indigenous rights, title, and treaty rights. They have an Online Resources centre that gives access to their digital collections, publications, and education materials.
Respecting Aboriginal Values and Environmental Needs: RAVEN is a non-profit charitable organization that provides financial assistance to Aboriginal Nations involved in court actions with industrial developments on their land.
- RAVEN DeBriefs: a podcast series hosted by RAVEN which feature Indigenous thinkers, legal experts, and organizers talking about Aboriginal legal issues.
Wet’suwet’en Conflict from APTN: a collection of stories written by the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, including contextual information for the protests earlier this year and the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and the federal and provincial governments.
- Memorandum of Understanding: the signed MOU is available in PDF format on the Office of the Wet’suwet’en website.
- Statement from Wet’suwet’en Elected Leadership: The Elected Chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en Nation released a statement in response to the signing of the MOU.
- Wet’suwet’en, B.C., and Canada launch path to implement rights and title: The BC Government also published a News Release discussing the MOU.
Toward Peace, Harmony, and Well-Being: Policing in Indigenous Communities: This report, published April 2019, was created by the Canadian Council of Academics and aims to assess the current state of policing in Indigenous communities and identify best and leading practices that could be applied in the future. The Report Details includes a timeline of Commissions and Inquiries Related to Indigenous Policing and Justice in Canada.
Rodney Levi, Chantel Moore shooting deaths put focus on recent police encounters with Indigenous community: This article from CBC News outlines recent police encounters with Indigenous communities in the last few weeks.
Let’s just admit it: Canada has a racism problem: Perry Bellegarde, the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, issued this response to these incidents on the AFN website.
Indigenous leaders condemn Police actions in death of Chantel Moore: The BC First Nations Justice Council, BC Assembly of First Nations, UBCIC, and First Nations Sumit also issued a Joint Statement regarding the death of Chantel Moore.
Deadly Force: Fatal encounters with the police in Canada 2000-2017: created by the CBC, this country-wide database brings together details of every person who has died or was killed during police intervention, which shows that Indigenous peoples are disproportionately represented in these incidents.
17 years of police violence in Canada: Pivot Legal Society provided a breakdown of the information in the above CBC database on their website.
Vancouver Aboriginal Community Policing Centre Society: VACPCS provides a positive link between the Vancouver Aboriginal Community and the Vancouver Police Department. Through advocacy, victim assistance, education, and culturally sensitive programming this organization aims to reduce the over-representation of Aboriginal people in the criminal justice system and help build community support for community policing and safety issues.
Indigenous Legal Information Resources
Clicklaw: Aboriginal Law: The Aboriginal Law section of the Clicklaw website connects people with reliable BC-based legal information and services for Indigenous people.
COVID-19 Resources for British Columbians: Indigenous Law Chapter: A source of up-to-date information about the impact of COVID-19 on Indigenous legal services and issues. It covers changes to legal services during COVID, how to access government benefits, guides for community leaders, and more.
Legal Aid BC: Aboriginal Family Law Webpage: The Aboriginal Family Law section of Legal Aid BC contains a variety of helpful resources for Indigenous family legal issues, including definitions, guides, booklets and links to available legal services.
Legal Aid BC Publications: Aboriginal Peoples Collection: A collection of plain language legal resources focused on Indigenous issues. Available in print and online, they include graphic novels, storybooks, posters, info sheets, and government guides.
BC Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act: meant to bring BC laws in line with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, this piece of legislation aims to create a path toward reconciliation that respects the rights of Indigenous peoples and promotes transparency and accountability.
- Read the text of the Act online at the BC Legislature website.
- The UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is also available online.
Legal Help for Indigenous Peoples
Clicklaw HelpMap: The Clicklaw HelpMap is a tool to discover free or low cost legal services in communities across BC.
Aboriginal Legal Aid: This non-profit organization provides free legal information, advice, and assistance to low income Indigenous peoples in BC.
Federal Indian Day Schools Class Action assistance: The official website of the Federal Indian Day School Class Action provides a number of resources that can assist claimants seeking compensation for forced attendance at Federal Indian Day Schools across Canada. Videos, FAQs, info sheets, and 1-on-1 support are available to those filing for compensation or looking to learn more about the process.
Native Courtworker and Counselling Association of BC: This association provides culturally appropriate justice and health related support to Indigenous people in BC. The NCCABC can help Indigenous people who are the victim of crime or involved in the criminal justice system, facing discrimination from health providers, or at risk of violence or abuse.
Indigenous Community Legal Clinic: Located in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, students from UBC’s Allard School of Law provide free legal services for members of the Indigenous community.
Last year, libraries bought more books on Indigenous law than on any other topic with LawMatters grants. As a result, many of you already have some of the titles on this list in your collections. Please check out the new additions, and if you have any titles you’d like to suggest, please let us know! Questions about 2020 grant spending? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Warrior Life: Indigenous Resistance and Resurgence (October 2020) by Pamela Palmater:In response to the arrests of Indigenous land defenders in early 2020, this book discusses Canadian colonialism and the ongoing ramifications for Indigenous peoples of systemic racism, including topics such as: health, the justice system, water crises on reserves, and gender-based violence.
Indigenous Nationhood: Empowering Grassroots Citizens (2015) by Pamela Palmater: Featuring a selection of blog posts, this book brings together commentary on the law, politics, Aboriginal rights, and social issues such as murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls.
Indigenous Relations: Insights, Tips & Suggestions to Make Reconciliation a Reality (2019) By Bob Joseph: This important sequel to 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act provides guidance on navigating the important topics surrounding the work of reconciliation, including topics such as Aboriginal Rights and Title, the distinction between hereditary and elected Chiefs, Indigenous worldviews and traditions, and more.
21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act: Helping Canadians Make Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples a Reality (2018) by Bob Joseph: Based on a viral article, this book is the essential guide to help readers understand the Indian Act and its repercussions on Indigenous peoples through the generations
From Where I Stand: Rebuilding Indigenous Nations for a Stronger Canada (2019) by Jody Wilson-Raybould: A collection of speeches and lectures from over ten years, this book shares insights on the work that has been done to move toward reconciliation and the work that still needs to be done.
Policing Indigenous Movements: Dissent and the Security State (2018) by Andrew Crosby and Jeffrey Monaghan: This book asks important questions about how policing and security agencies have monitored and worked to silence Indigenous resistance to industrial developments through the examination of four movements: the Algonquins of Barriere Lake fight to have their land and resource rights recognized, the struggle against the Northern Gateway Pipeline, Idle No More, and the anti-fracking protests of the Elsipogtog First Nation.
Otter’s Journey through Indigenous Language and Law (2018) by Lindsay Keegitah Borrows: Using the Anishinaabe tradition of storytelling, this book explores the relationship between the revitalization of Indigenous language and legal traditions. Through this story, the author is able to illustrate how the philosophies and processes of Indigenous language and law can emerge from under the colonial legal system.
Want to learn more about Indigenous Peoples and the law? Check out these webinars being offered by CLBC!
Métis Legal Issues: a 2 hour webinar on June 23rd exploring the history of Métis people and the legal issues experienced specifically by Métis people.
Indian Day Schools: a 2 hour webinar on July 2nd exploring the history of Indian Day Schools in Canada and the Class Action for Survivors of Indian Day Schools, including discussion of filling out the Claim form.