The Calls to Action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission inspired Lerners’ Diversity and Inclusion Committee to raise awareness of Indigenous Treaties and Laws. As a Committee member, I volunteered to organize a workshop on the subject and invited Windsor Faculty of Law Professor Beverly Jacobs to lead lawyers and staff in meaningful discussions on this topic.
For me, an important takeaway was learning that the treaties and laws of Indigenous people cannot be interpreted by lawyers and judges in the same way they do our contemporary laws. Treaties and laws of Indigenous people need to be interpreted in conjunction with their unique history, cultures, identities, traditions, languages, etc. For example, land is not just a physical “thing”, but a representation of sanctuary and spirituality of their ancestry and future. I found it interesting to learn that Indigenous people start each event with what is called, “The Thanksgiving Address”. This is a spiritual acknowledgement of the powers of the natural world, including the land, people, plants, and air. Understanding Indigenous peoples’ connection to the land for the purposes of creation and sustainability is a lesson learned that we all took away. Professor Jacobs’ passion was overwhelming. Her expertise is incredibly valuable to the legal profession.
I also had the privilege of speaking one-one-one with Professor Jacobs about the roles of Indigenous women. Traditionally, they have been revered as life-givers and caregivers. Discussing with her the roles of women in the Creation and Mother Earth stories hit home both as a woman and as a mother when comparing these narratives to those which have necessitated the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
This workshop was yet another well-attended event by lawyers and staff. The opportunity to have gained new insights into Indigenous treaties and law and matters affecting my community and those around me was invaluable and I am certain that my colleagues would agree.
Ginny Lacasse, CEDS
Litigation Support Specialist
Diversity and Inclusion Committee member