University of Victoria offers first combined Indigenous law degree

Wednesday, March 7, 2018
Amanda Woodrow
Canadian Lawyer

The University of Victoria is launching a four-year law program said to be the first of its kind in the world that teaches both Indigenous and non-Indigenous law to students.

John Borrows, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Law is one of the two creators of the program and says he hopes it will encourage others to recognize Indigenous law as a reputable law and result in producing better common law lawyers.

“It’s been my work through many years,” says Borrows who is Anishinabe/Ojibway and a member of the Chippewa of the Nawash First Nation in Ontario.

In 1995, the idea was first raised, “but never really addressed,” says Borrows. In 2003, the first proposal was raised “but not approved”. From 2004 to today, Borrows and his colleagues have been working on developing the curriculum with the entire UVic community.

After 23 years, the program is now preparing for its first planned intake of students in September, once approved under B.C.’s Degree Authorization Act.

This act uses a quality assurance review procedure to ensure the quality of the degree and the equal value of the degree throughout various degree levels and institutions. This makes B.C. degree credits transferable in Canada and the international realm.