Indigenous Law Student Lounge

The Faculty’s commitment to support Indigenous law students is reflected in part by the creation of the Indigenous Student Lounge. The purpose of the Lounge is to provide a place for Indigenous students to study and connect. The Allard School of Law and its Indigenous Legal Studies Program are committed to promoting education and research about Indigenous legal issues for use by lawyers, judges and the broader community. With strong support from the faculty, staff and students associated with the Indigenous Legal Studies Program, the Faculty recruits and supports Indigenous law students, offers courses in Aboriginal and Indigenous law, conducts research, often in partnership with Indigenous peoples and nations, provides legal assistance to Indigenous peoples through its clinic in the Downtown Eastside, and generally fosters greater understanding of the place of Indigenous peoples in Canadian society and abroad.

The Indigenous Student Lounge features ‘woven’ wood to represent the cultural importance and many uses of cedar.  The display case in the wall of the Indigenous Student Lounge includes blades of grass between the glass as another recognition of the Musqueam Indian Band as ‘the People of the River Grass’.  From the Lounge, students can see the word ‘xʷǝn̓iwǝn’ (for ‘remember’) in Musqueam’s hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ dialect emblazoned on a bench by the rainwater-fed reflection pool.  Also visible from the Lounge is the House Post of ‘qiyǝplenǝxʷ’ (‘Capilano’)* by Musqueam artist Brent Sparrow Jr.  This welcoming figure, representing an important Musqueam leader who maintained a fortified warrior outpost  in this area, stands on the north side of Allard Hall, looking out over the Salish Sea and the north entrance to campus, as the original qiyǝplenǝxʷ and countless Musqueam before have done for centuries.  It also serves to recognize the historic and ongoing relationship between the Allard School of Law and the Musqueam people in the pursuit of justice and education related to Indigenous peoples.

We are grateful to those who participated in the Faculty’s consultation process to create this special space as part of Allard Hall and we raise our hands in thanks.

hay ce:p q̓ə.

*not a true phonetic translation of this honourable name which continues to be passed down from generation to generation.

‘xʷǝn̓iwǝn’ (for ‘remember’) in Musqueam’s hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ dialect emblazoned on a bench that can be viewed from the Lounge.

Art displayed in Indigenous Lounge includes:

Musqueam Spindle and Whorl by Frances Guerin, Ramsay Louis, and McGary Point - located in the display case in the Lounge, Ground Floor

The tapestry, spindle whorl and the wool were crafted by Musqueam artists and brothers Ramsay Louis, carver, and McGary Point, weaver. Frances Guerin is the conceptual artist who used oral tradition to draw the integrated components of this art piece into a conceptual whole and she is the mother of Ramsay and McGary.  This work was created circa 2003.

The spindle whorl depicts a link that threads and intertwines Indigenous Peoples into the tapestry. Each figure on the spindle whorl symbolizes the interweaving of the relationship between the academic community, the students, and Indigenous Peoples. The action of the spindle whorl animates the images of the figures representing a cooperative relationship where they are working as one.

  • The eagle symbolizes the eyes of the academic world which is visionary in scope and has the duty to warn us when we are out of balance. Eagle arcs like a rainbow and moves through the sky animating the Air to remind us that clean Air is sacred and essential to the survival of all people.
  • The salmon symbolizes the student and the circle of life in the way it journeys through fresh water to salt water and then returns again to fresh water. In this same way the student is nourished by traditional values and knowledge of the Elders prior to beginning life’s journey. Like the salmon returning again to its life sources, students return to provide nourishment to Indigenous Peoples. By returning to fresh water the salmon reminds us that fresh Water is sacred and necessary to all people.
  • The wolf symbolizes family and reminds us that order evolves from following the laws of honour and respect in family relationships. When families follow their own laws they can move freely among other families of Indigenous Peoples and their territories. When families of Indigenous Peoples live in peace and accord with natural law they are one with all living things in the air, in the water, and on Mother Earth.

The tapestry arising from the spindle whorl represents a protective shield to symbolize the way that Indigenous Peoples respect, honour, and take responsibility for their relationship to Mother Earth.

  • The Four Corners pattern is a sacred symbol and represents a common thread in shared teachings of Indigenous Peoples.
  • The herringbone symbol represents the free flowing pattern of the water, wind, knowledge and teachings of our ancestors. Embedded in this pattern is the concept of Caution. To quote an Elder, “you must think first about what it is that you are going to do or say, for, like the wind, you cannot take it back”.
  • The colours emanating from the tapestry are from natural representations from life; the flora and fauna that encompass all life.

The base represents the sacred ground we walk on: our Mother, the Earth that holds us up and nourishes us.

The spindle, the whorl, and the wool represent a work in progress, and thus the potential of the academic community, the students, and Indigenous Peoples working in a cooperative relationship.

Information found on a pamphlet for the Centre for International Indigenous Legal Studies (CIILS), sponsored by the First Nations Legal Studies Program (now the Indigenous Legal Studies Program) and the Faculty of Law, UBC and affiliated with the First Nations House of Learning, UBC. The tapestry and spindle were crafted as the CIILS program logo. CIILS was created in 1998 and the pamphlet predated March 2003, so I have dated these pieces as circa 2003.

Paddle by Andy Bellasa - located in the display case in the Lounge, Ground Floor














Hummingbird by Don Alfred, Namgis - located in the display case in the Lounge