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Construction underway in B.C. for Canada’s first National Centre for Indigenous Laws

University of Victoria facility to host degrees in Canadian Common Law, Indigenous legal orders
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Val Napoleon, acting dean of law, along with Patricia Barkaskas, strategic advisor to the dean for the National Centre for Indigenous Laws, show a rendering of the future building at the University of Victoria Thursday (March 9). (Austin Westphal/News Staff)

The site of the future National Centre for Indigenous Laws at the University of Victoria has already begun to take shape.

The Law Foundation of British Columbia announced Thursday (March 9) it’s boosting its initial $5-million funding commitment by an additional $6 million to help complete the centre currently under construction.

“This new space will help breath life into the learning and work that takes place there, where teachers and students support Indigenous communities seeking to articulate and apply their laws to contemporary challenges,” said board chair Mary Childs. “UVic is leading the way in transforming what legal education means and the new centre will be at the heart of that transformation.”

The law foundation’s contribution is on top of a $13-million commitment from the provincial government and just over $9 million from Ottawa.

Designed to reflect and honour the long-standing relationships between the law school and the Songhees, Esquimalt and WSANEC peoples, the building will house the joint degree program in Canadian Common Law and Indigenous legal orders, as well as the Indigenous Law Research Unit. It will also house the Environmental Law Centre, the Business Law Clinic, the Access to Justice Centre and an elders’ room and garden.

The building’s design also incorporates best practices for environmental stewardship and management, such as the use of mass timber to provide a carbon sink and reduce emissions from prefabricated construction materials, in addition to stormwater management and considerations for solar orientation.

Both the building and function of the National Centre for Indigenous Laws have been developed over the course of a decade through extensive engagement with local and national Indigenous communities and stakeholders.

Acting dean Val Napoleon said the centre’s roots are a direct response to the fulfilment of calls to action 27, 28 and particularly 50 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which call upon the federal government to fund the establishment of Indigenous law institutes.

Construction of the centre is scheduled for completion in fall 2024.

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32095771_web1_copy_230309-SNE-IndigenousLawCentre-RenderingWebPhoto_1
Val Napoleon, acting dean of law, along with Patricia Barkaskas, strategic advisor to the dean for the National Centre for Indigenous Laws, show a rendering of the future building at the University of Victoria Thursday (March 9). (Austin Westphal/News Staff)




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