Ottawa commits money to lay foundation for Indigenous law centre in Ontario

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OTTAWA —
The federal government is earmarking funds for projects that aim to build on Ottawa’s commitment to help revitalize Indigenous legal traditions.

Justice Minister David Lametti says $918,000 will go to the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians and Lakehead University’s law faculty to support Indigenous law-making research and “lay the foundation” for an Indigenous legal institute in Thunder Bay, Ont.

The funding draws on a previously announced $9.5 million for 21 projects to help First Nations, Inuit and Metis restore Indigenous law in regions across the country.

That plan comes in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s call to action No. 50, which demands the federal government work with Aboriginal organizations to fund the establishment of Indigenous law institutes.

Grand Chief Joel Abram from the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians says Canada is still in the early stages of realizing Indigenous sovereignty, citing a need for more discussion.

Lametti points to the example of the Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne, which in 2016 established an independent legal system to handle non-criminal offences within the reserve, and he says the myriad legal traditions of diverse Indigenous communities should be respected.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 21, 2021.

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