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An Ode to the Law Class of 2023


Tansi Nîtôtemtik,


It is bittersweet to welcome you with those words for my last blog post with ReconciliACTION YEG. Writing and reading alongside all of you has been a privilege, a blessing, and a reminder sometimes of the reasons why I applied for law school, and other times of why I am still here.


Looking back at my very first post (here) I can see the vision we set out for the year and how the journey of “Truth Before Reconciliation” has progressed. I began my year of writing by saying,


“For myself, reconciliation isn't just the big decisions we make like who to vote for, the policies and laws we support, the programs we fund, or the land we claim. It is also the way we consume Indigenous culture, support Indigenous ways of knowing, grow our relationships within our circles, and how we carry ourselves in our roles as Treaty people each and every day.”[1]


My words are a reminder to myself that the space of relationality has always been where my own truth before reconciliation journey begins from.


And when I think of approaching law from this place of relationship and connection and this hard work that requires learning and unlearning, leaning into the discomfort, and showing up…


I think of the Class of 2023.


Former Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) Chair, the Honourable Murray Sinclair once shared that, “education got us into this mess, and education is key to getting us out.”[2] And if that is true, then the Class of 2023 is well-positioned to move us further along in this journey.


You are the generation of future lawyers that started your legal education during a worldwide pandemic. When you couldn’t go to law school, you invited the law into your homes.


And in that space, you created something new, special…accessible.


You did away with concrete buildings filled with plaques and rows of plastic chairs, a sanitary institution, and replaced them with spaces you’ve filled with love, family, friends.


You didn’t just hear about students who rocked babies while reading Post v Pierson, students stealing moments to write papers on breaks at work or driving their parents to appointments.


You saw them.


And in that seeing, you made space for the idea that “law is something people do.”[3] It is something much more than textbooks, seminars, and moots. It is grounded in lived experiences, relationships, and the constant evolution of what that means.


You are the generation that saw decades of tradition change overnight. And you are the generation that leaned into that discomfort; finding ways to connect while staying apart.


You are the generation that learned through Wet’suwet’en protests, Black Lives Matter, Freedom Convoy’s, exceptional tuition increases, and devastating conflicts abroad.


You didn’t just learn the law, you lived law.


So, when I think of the journey of reconciliation, and the ways in which we must come together to undertake this challenging work, I can’t help but look to my colleagues. The generation of future legal professionals who lived and learned laws in unprecedented ways.


Because the truth is that reconciliation requires us to come together in ways we never have before and to follow paths we have never taken.


And for the Class of 2023, I hope this is just the beginning.


Signing off,


Casey Caines

ReconciliACTION YEG


[1] Casey Caines, “Meet Team ReconciliACTION YEG 21/22: Casey Caines” (2021), online: ReconciliACTION YEG < https://www.reconciliactionyeg.ca/post/meet-team-reconciliaction-yeg-21-22-casey-caines>.

[2] Murray Sinclair, cited from “Education” (2022), online: National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation <https://nctr.ca/education/>.

[3] Cited from Hadley Friedland, “Reflective Frameworks: Methods for Accessing, Understanding and Applying Indigenous Laws” (2012) at 14; See also Hero Laird, “Law is a Tool to Solve Problems. Here’s How:” (2022), online: ReconciliACTION YEG <https://www.reconciliactionyeg.ca/post/law-is-a-tool-to-solve-problems-here-s-how>.


Photo by @helloimnik on Unsplash


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