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Indigenous law is alive in the community today: John Borrows


Photo Credit: John Borrows, Monday Feb 28th Speaker at the ILSA Speaker Series 2022 (photo courtesy of John Borrows)


Tansi Nîtôtemtik, good morning everyone,


We think that hearing some wise words from John Borrows will be a wonderful way to start the week! On Monday February 28th at noon (Mountain Time), we will be tuning in for the first talk of the 20th annual Indigenous Law Students' Association Speaker Series, running online this Monday, Feb 28 - Friday, March 4 2022.


Law is a part of our lives every day, and this speaker series is a chance to learn more about how Indigenous law is a part of Indigenous communities. If you are curious about what Indigenous law is or wish to learn more about how it applies to you in practice, you are in luck.


Monday's speaker, John Borrows, has inspired a generation of advocates to practice Indigenous law in Canada. He is a member of the Chippewa of the Nawash First Nation in Ontario, Canada. He is the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Law at the University of Victoria Law School in British Columbia, and among many other tributes to his work, he was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2020.


Books like Canada's Indigenous Constitution, Drawing Out Law: A Spirit's Guide and Recovering Canada, and The Resurgence of Indigenous Law are one way that he reaches people. Connecting with people in different settings, including the ILSA Speaker Series, is another way. [1]


So how is Indigenous law to be alive in the community today? Through Anishinaabe stories, John will share some of his experience and wisdom to explain in plain language how Indigenous law shapes and supports communities from coast to coast to coast.


The series is virtual, free and open to everyone. You can register here. [2]


John Borrows' talk is the first of five talks to be held at noon each day this week, with a bonus talk and concert on Friday from 1-3 pm. They will each touch on aspects of this year's topic, Coming Home: Bringing Children, Laws, and Legal Traditions Back to Their Homefire. [3] This is an opportunity to learn and connect to Indigenous-led, community-led legal work.


If you are not sure it is for you - it is!


Law affects everyone, and everyone is welcome.

Law is not something to be locked up in towers or understood by only a few people. It is a tool to make life better. It is a tool that everyone can use. And often, people use the tools of law as second nature, without realizing how much they know already.


Many, many people are using Indigenous laws to understand and address current issues. This includes efforts to support children, families, and communities as unmarked burial grounds continue to be found at residential schools.


To honour this work and these children and communities, the theme for this year's speaker series is Coming Home: Bringing Children, Laws, and Legal Traditions Back to Their Homefire.


We hope you will join us this week to explore Indigenous law with ILSA. We would be glad to hear your thoughts.


You can register here for each talk, as well as the final concert on Friday, March 4th, 2022. [4]


Kinanâskomitin, thank you for reading and take care,

Hero and the ReconciliACTION team





[1] University of Victoria, "John Borrows" (2021), online: The University of Victoria Faculty of Law Faculty Directory <https://www.uvic.ca/law/facultystaff/facultydirectory/borrows.php>.

[2] Indigenous Law Students Association, "Speaker Series 2022" (2021) The Indigenous Law Students Association online <https://ilsa2020.wixsite.com/ilsa/speaker-series-2022>.

[3] Ibid. (the same reference as the last one)

[4] Ibid.


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