Allard Law students shine at Kawaskimhon Moot

Now in its 22nd year, the Kawaskimhon moot provides law students from across Canada with an opportunity to come together to speak to Aboriginal rights and Indigenous issues. It is also an integral component of the Indigenous Legal Studies Program at Allard Law.

This year’s moot took place on March 11 at Queen’s Law School in Kingston, Ontario, with 17 law schools participating from across the country. Allard Law was represented by third year students Brenda Schwab, Justin Dalton, Yvan Guy Larocque, Darren Haines and Amjad Khadhair.

The word ‘kawaskimhon’ is a Cree word meaning speaking with knowledge.  This non-competitive moot, open to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, works to build consensus utilizing Indigenous legal principles. Law school teams discuss issues in a talking circle format, each representing various parties, including various provincial governments, the federal government, and Indigenous governing assemblies and associations.

"The unique format of the Moot provided an important lesson in advocacy: advancing your position doesn’t have to come at the expense of the alternatives; it can often be helped by them. At the same time, we seemed to arrive at more questions than consensus. I think this underscores the importance of viewing reconciliation as an ongoing process,” said Amjad.

This year’s problem focused on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Report and Calls to Action, asking law students to creatively explore possibilities for a new Royal Proclamation of Reconciliation and a renewed relationship of the Government of Canada with Aboriginal peoples, one fully informed by the findings of the TRC. Where the Royal Proclamation of 1763 unilaterally established the terms for European settlement of Aboriginal territories across British North America, students explored the complex and interwoven issues surrounding the legal and institutional legacies of colonialism considered in a context of reconciliation, of respect for Indigenous law and legal principles, and of the principles articulated in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,  such as free, prior and informed consent.

The Kawaskimhon Moot team is generously supported by Mandell Pinder LLP. Partners and Associates from Mandell Pinder, including Cheryl Sharvit and Kris Statnyk, coached the team along with Professor Gordon Christie and Dana-Lyn Mackenzie, Associate Director of the Indigenous Legal Studies Program.