Cultural Competency Certificate



This certificate enhances experiential learning opportunities and the ethics requirement, allowing students to connect with the Indigenous community and draw on cross cultural learning opportunities. Students commit to the opening and closing field trips, the Indigenous Awareness Retreat and Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre, and must complete 5 modules including one self-directed. Participation in a module includes attending the experience and the corresponding Talking Circle. The Talking Circle component to each experiential learning module offers students the opportunity to read, discuss and reflect on the initial experience through both a traditional Indigenous talking circle and a journaling component, in order to theorize and put into practice skills based cultural competencies.

The certificate is open to JD and graduate students, Allard faculty and staff.


Certificate Objectives

The objectives of this certificate are to instill an understanding around issues such as: Euro-centric teachings and the law; what decolonization means for the legal landscape; and, to offer an opportunity for students to analyze and synthesize issues according to their perspectives. Notions of attitude, understanding, experience, skills, knowledge and transforming practice are all central to developing cultural competence. An important part of any professional practice is the ability to be reflective. Having the capacity to be reflective in both life and work is a key part of developing cultural competence. Students will be encouraged to reflect on their own identities and recognize the filers and lenses that they bring to legal issues. A key outcome is to allow students to engage with broad conceptual thinking, and develop skills central to a strong professional practice, namely questioning, reflecting and considering.  

For an interview regarding the certificate program, please visit the recent article posted here.




Students must participate in person to four modules of the five offered throughout the year. Students will track their own participation and submit it to Associate Director, ILSP Dana-Lyn Mackenzie at by March 8th, 2018. Out of respect for our Indigenous partners and communities, students cannot participate if under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Students should review the Code of Conduct and Respectful Environment statement

Talking circle

Conducted with talking stick in circle format, each circle with be facilitated by faculty member Patricia M. Barkaskas and Dana-Lyn Mackenzie.

Reflection Module

A journaling component, submitted to Instructor Barkaskas after each Talking Stick circle (not graded) fulfils the self-reflection component, which is an essential experiential learning piece of pedagogy.


Students participate in opening (Retreat) and closing (Cultural Centre) and five modules (each composed of an experiential piece & Talking Circle). Attendance will be taken. Students track and submit form/checklist marking off which modules they have completed. The Certificates will be awarded at banquet.

2017-18 Schedule 

Modules are offered monthly (Excluding December and April). The experiential learning opportunity will be on a Tuesday at 12:30-2:00, and the corresponding talking circle will follow on the Thursday at 12:30-2:00 in the Indigenous Classroom, Allard Hall, Room 123. Students are required to participate in the Indigenous Awareness Retreat in September and will also be required to attend the Cultural Centre in March where the certificates will be awarded following Indigenous cultural protocols. The annual Indigenous Awareness Week in February is also a key component of the modules.

Module One 

  • September 18th - Indigenous Awareness Retreat 
  • September 21st - Talking Circle 

Module Two 

  • October 17th - We Were Children - National Film Board of Canada, Indian Residential School film. 
  • October 19th - Talking Circle 

Module Three

  • November 14th - Speaker Serise: How to Provide Oral History Evidence from an Indigenous Perspective (with cultural proficiency) Leah George-Wilson (ILSP alumna, Associate at Gowlings LLP).   
  • November 16th - Talking Circle 

Module Four 

  • January 16th - Elder Led Teachings,  Musqueam First Nation  
  • January 18th - Talking Circle 

Module Five 

  • February 13th - Indigeous Awareness Week 
  • February 15th - Talking Circle 

Module Six

  • March 8th - Independent Option: *Students may choose to attend Aboriginal Friendship Centre event, Native Courtworker elders night, Musqueam 101 or another event of choice. 
  • March 11th - Cultural Competency Certificate Banquet 



Patricia Barkaskas, Instructor/Academic Director Indigenous Community Legal Clinic & Dana-Lyn Mackenzie, Associate Director, Indigenous Legal Studies Program
Patricia Barkaskas, Instructor/Academic Director Indigenous Community Legal Clinic & Dana-Lyn Mackenzie, Associate Director, Indigenous Legal Studies Program