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"Justice Looks Like Love in Public": Kawaskimhon Moot 2022

"Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public."

– Cornel West


Concrete buildings. Stuffy robes. Pages upon pages of Latin-laced works.


When I think of law, many words and images come to mind. Love, however, has not typically been the first. As an Indigenous woman, it would be fair to say it might even be the last.


But law and love do grow alongside and within each other.


Law is "found in how people live their lives," and it is "written on our hearts.”[1] Law, like justice, is what love truly looks like in public.


…And this has never been more on display for me than at the Kawaskimhon Moot 2022.


Mooting is that law school thing you don't know until you know, and then it's impossible not to know. Traditionally it entails an “oral presentation of a legal issue or problem against an opposing counsel and before a judge.”[2] It is essentially, in its most basic form, a mock trial.


The Kawaskimhon Moot, however, is a moot by name only. Predicated on negotiation and Indigenous and Aboriginal law, this moot allows participants representing various parties to come together, in their own process, to find a resolution to complex and often timely Indigenous community-centered matters.


Where concrete buildings, stuffy robes, and textbooks hold the field, Kawaskimhon breaks free.


There is space to ‘be’ within a moot designed to exist outside and without the frameworks of the colonial system; to be creative in how we come together, and often, how we disagree; to bring our whole selves to every conversation, and to approach one another from a place of relationship. There is also space to not do any of those things.


What Kawaskimhon did for me was bring the law into the light. It did not romanticize the challenging work of engaging with Indigenous and Aboriginal law, nor did it absolve the hard work of grappling with the intricacies and importance of Indigenous issues and their intersection with the law. It did not erase power imbalances and systemic inequalities within the legal system nor fill me with hope that we will find ways to overcome them. It did not resolve all conflicts without compromise or loss.


What it did do was provide something that law school so often overlooks: love.

It opened the doors to what love for community, land, people, and all beings can do within legal systems. It provided an opportunity to centre relationships and connections. It made space for thoughtful reflection, discussion, and creative ways of looking at not just the law and resolutions but also the processes by which we get there.


The Kawaskimhon Moot for Table #3 helped justice look a whole lot like love.


And as we continue to walk the path toward reconciliation, I have learned that love is never all we need, but it is often a great place to start. For if justice is what love looks like in public, then reconciliation too must set its roots down in both.


Until next time,


ReconciliACTION YEG


Photo Credit: Koren Lightning-Earle


[1] John Borrows’ as recounted in Hadley Friedland, “Reflective Frameworks: Methods for Accessing, Understanding, and Applying Indigenous Laws” (2012) 11 Indigenous LJ 1 at 8 as found in Darcy Lindberg, “Miyo Nêhiyâwiwin (Beautiful Creeness) Ceremonial Aesthetics and Nêhiyaw Legal Pedagogy” (2018) 16/17 Indigenous Law Journal 51 at 53.

[2] “What is mooting?” (2021), online: Oxford University Press <https://global.oup.com/ukhe/mooting/whatismooting/?cc=ca&lang=en&>.

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