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Issue #49
December, 2013

Canadian Lawyers Abroad – Dare to Dream Empowering Aboriginal Youth

Summary: Canadian Lawyers Abroad’s “Dare to Dream” project is an innovative program that engages the Canadian legal and business community in initiatives that support and empower Aboriginal students and their families, help them achieve their dreams, and contribute to their communities. This program is also designed to increase the number of opportunities for Aboriginal law students, promote diversity in the legal and business community and foster a greater understanding of Aboriginal culture and issues. This program engages CLA’s network of lawyers and law students from across the country, as well as members of like-minded organizations such as the Indigenous Bar Association.

Dare to Dream is a multi-faceted program that includes the following activities:

1. Outreach through public legal education and mentoring activities to support Aboriginal youth and their families. Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal lawyers and law students will participate in justice education initiatives and a mentoring program in partnership with local schools with a significant Aboriginal population. The goal is to give Aboriginal students meaningful opportunities to interact with law students and lawyers who will serve as role models and mentors, help increase their knowledge about law and justice issues, and introduce them to law and law-related careers. CLA is working with the Indigenous Bar Association and the Ontario Justice Education Network to develop outreach material that incorporates Aboriginal themes and uses innovative delivery methods (mock trials; sentencing circles). This initiative is being piloted in Calgary and Toronto in the Fall of 2012. CLA’s partners include our Gold Sponsor: GE Capital; our Bronze Sponsors: McMillan LLP and TransCanada Corporation; as well as Blake, Cassels and Graydon LLP; the Law Society of Upper Canada; Norton Rose LLP and the RBC Foundation.

Clip of Dare to Dream Mock Trial at First Nations School of Toronto

2. Internship opportunities for law students to spend the summer working with Aboriginal communities and organizations that support Aboriginal people. Current internships are with the Nunavut Legal Services Board in Iqaluit and Rankin Inlet, with the Law Society of Nunavut, with the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council and with the Behdzi Ahda First Nation in the Northwest Territories. CLA is developing new internships in partnership with the Indigenous Bar Association and the Canadian Human Rights Commission whereby Aboriginal law students will assist First Nations governments in identifying and addressing human rights issues.

3. Increased opportunities for Aboriginal law students. In addition to providing opportunities for Aboriginal law students through our internship program, CLA is also encouraging businesses and law firms to promote diversity in their ranks by hiring Aboriginal law students. Providing increased work opportunities for Aboriginal students not only increases diversity in the legal profession, it increases the legal community’s knowledge and awareness about Aboriginal culture and history.

To find out more, read this blog post.

Pro Bono project partnering the Legal Services Board of Nunavut with Borden Ladner Gervais LLP

CLA has developed an exciting partnership with the Legal Services Board (LSB) of Nunavut and Borden Ladner Gervais LLP to develop public legal education material. Lawyers and law students from BLG are working with the LSB to develop radio scripts in the area of poverty law (e.g., family law, wills and estates) that the LSB can use to increase access to justice for Nunavummiut.

The LSB is the territorial organization that delivers legal aid in Nunavut. It provides criminal, family, child welfare, as well as civil and poverty legal services to Nunavummiut through three regional clinics. The LSB participates in CLA’s Summer Internship Program with CLA students working at the Iqaluit and Rankin Inlet clinics. Madeleine Redfern, the mayor of Iqaluit and a member of the CLA, helped develop this partnership in her role as Chair of the LSB.

Furthering public legal education is part of the LSB’s mandate and is essential to increasing Nunavummiuts’ access to justice. The LSB has had great success in the past in providing public legal education material with a weekly radio show, supplemented with local community radio appearances by counsel who are on circuit. Radio is the medium of choice to disseminate information for a number of reasons including the size of the territory, relatively high levels of illiteracy, and its accessibility. Additional radio shows will have a positive impact, in particular providing key legal information for individuals in remote communities who are not able to readily consult with a legal professional.

Empathy, Dignity and Respect- Health Care Canada

Source: Health Council of Canada

Summary: In the spring of 2012, the Health Council of Canada held a series of meetings across Canada with health care providers, managers, and researchers to learn about efforts to create culturally competent care and culturally safe environments for Aboriginal people in urban health care services. It is well documented that many underlying factors negatively affect the health of Aboriginal people, including poverty and the intergenerational effects of colonization and residential schools. But as participants discussed at meetings, one of the barriers to good health lies squarely in the lap of the health care system itself. They told that many Aboriginal people don’t trust, and therefore don’t use, mainstream health care services because they don’t feel safe from stereotyping and racism, and because the Western approach to health care can feel alienating and intimidating. This is one of the reasons that many Aboriginal people are less likely to seek help when they have symptoms and more likely to be diagnosed at a later stage of disease than non-Aboriginal people, a delay that can make treatment more difficult or no longer possible. Others may go for care but then drop out of treatment. In addition, if the health system is not safe for Aboriginal people, they miss the benefits of preventive care such as immunizations and screening tests.

While these issues would be of concern for any population, they are of particular concern for Aboriginal people, who, as a group, have the poorest health and the shortest life expectancies of all Canadians. Culturally competent care builds trust, increasing the likelihood that Aboriginal people will go for care and stay with their treatment. Although a number of research and government reports have discussed the need for increased cultural competency in health care, participants told us this issue is not widely known or understood in the health care field.

The goal of the 2012 Health Council meetings, held in Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, and St. John’s, was to hear first-hand accounts from people in the field about the need for cultural competency and safety, and to learn what innovative practices are working. The focus was on mainstream urban health care systems, as approximately half of Canada’s 1.3 million Aboriginal people live in cities.

Most of the participants in our sessions were First Nations, Inuit, or Métis people, and were asked for their professional and personal perspectives to help answer two questions:

  • What do cultural competency and cultural safety look and feel like in health care?

  • What programs are working at the system level, in community health care and hospitals, within professions to create welcoming and safe environments for Aboriginal people?

It was learned that cultural competency and cultural safety are becoming top-of-mind topics in many governments, health regions, and hospitals. In addition to the innovative practices listed in this report, participants told of other strategies that are currently in development and expected to roll out within the next few years. There was a sense of hope and anticipation among many participants.

This commentary is intended to serve as a primer on the issue for health care providers and leaders, governments, and the Canadian public. Part 2 of this report provides descriptions of new and emerging programs and strategies, while selected in-depth case studies and a video are available online at

Our Words, Our Ways – Teaching FNMI Students – Alberta

Source: Alberta Education: Aboriginal Services Branch and Learning and Teaching Resources Branch.
Focus: Elementary/Secondary Teachers and staff

Summary: This resource will help classroom teachers and staff better serve the needs of their Aboriginal students. The process of development was one of consultation, information gathering, drafting, more consultation and re-drafting. The contributors to this resource include Aboriginal Elders, teachers and psychologists as well as other members of Alberta’s Aboriginal communities.

Culturally-relevant approaches effectively serve the learning needs of Aboriginal students. The term Aboriginal refers to the descendants of the original inhabitants of North America. The Canadian Constitution recognizes three groups of Aboriginal peoples: First Nations, Métis and Inuit. Traditional and contemporary Aboriginal cultures offer a number of frameworks for understanding, guiding, learning from and teaching students.

The relationship between student and teacher is the heart of Aboriginal education. The teacher’s relationship with each student is based on observing and learning about the individual child and his or her unique learning needs in order to help the child grow holistically— spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally. Education is very important to Aboriginal people—it is a key to the future for Aboriginal children and their families.

This resource offers information about Aboriginal cultures and perspectives, practical ideas, and sample strategies that will help teachers meet the needs and recognize the gifts of Aboriginal students. Many of the sample strategies are good for all students and are relevant for a range of educational settings and contexts.

Canada’s Residential Schools Apology – CBC Currents Affairs

Source: CBC News in Review
Focus: Secondary Students

Summary: For over 100 years Aboriginal children were taken from their families and shipped off to residential schools where the goal was to “kill the Indian in the child.” This News in Review story examines the history and legacy of residential schools as well as the apology delivered to the Aboriginal community by the Prime Minister on behalf of all Canadians.

Aboriginal Youth

Source: Government of Canada – Services for Youth
Focus: Secondary students

Summary: Attached is a list of programs and services specific to the needs of Aboriginal youth – information on Jobs, Education, Careers, Money and Health.


  • Need help getting a job? The Job Search Toolkit for Aboriginal Youth from Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada can help you identify your skills and talents, prepare your resume and cover letter, give you tips for interviews, or help you start your own business.

  • Are you a student? Gain work experience related to your field of study through the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Partnership Program offered through the Federal Student Work Experience Program (FSWEP).

  • The Skills Link program helps youth facing barriers to employment – such as single parents, Aboriginal youth, young persons with disabilities, recent immigrants, youth living in rural and remote areas and high school dropouts obtain the knowledge to develop a broad range of skills and work experience they need to participate in the job market.

  • Discover the Bold Eagle Program, which provides Aboriginal youth with a unique summer program that combines military training along with Aboriginal culture and customs.



  • Have you been laid-off from your job? Employment Insurance (EI) provides benefits to individuals who lose their jobs through no fault of their own (for example, due to shortage of work, seasonal or mass lay-offs) and are available for and able to work, but can’t find a job. This site outlines what it takes to be eligible for EI benefits and how to apply.

  • Learn more about the benefits and rights to which First Nations, Inuit and Métis people are legally guaranteed at the Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada Web site.

  • Are you owed wages since you lost your job? The Wage Earner Protection Program (WEPP) reimburses eligible workers for unpaid wages and vacation pay they are owed when their employer declares bankruptcy or becomes subject to a receivership.

Digital Nations

Source: Digital Nations is a partnership with APTN and Animiki See Digital Productions.

Summary: This online initiative has been created to bring Aboriginal perspectives and stories to an international audience. Digital Nations is comprised of 75 short films and vignettes showcasing Aboriginal art, culture and history. This APTN initiative, produced by Animiki See Digital Productions, consists of three strands:

13 different interpretations of the theme “nationhood” brought to you by 13 aboriginal filmmakers from across Canada, produced by the National Film Board of Canada.

Profiling 36 Canadian Aboriginal artists, these two-minute shorts expose a broad view of what Aboriginal art is today and who is creating it. An Animiki See production produced in partnership with the Canada Council for the Arts.

This series of two-minutes vignettes, produced by Big Soul Productions Inc., introduces important symbols of Canadian First Nations, Inuit, and Mètis culture in a contemporary context.

The story of Makoonsag Intergenerational Children’s Centre | eTV Learning Technologies

Source: Red River College
Focus: Parents and Community

Summary: Directed by Jamie Koshyk (Community Services) and produced in conjunction with eTV, this video documents the design and development of an Aboriginal child care program in the heart of Winnipeg. The video highlights the community collaboration and partnerships that helped to bring Stella Blackbird’s dream of an Intergenerational Children’s Centre to reality.

Lone Dog’s Winter Count

Source: National Museum of the American Indian
Focus: Grades 4-8

Summary: Students learn about the oral culture and history-keeping of the Nakota people, who made the Lone Dog Winter Count. Then they create a monthly pictograph calendar of their own to document a year of their personal history.


In this lesson, students will:

  • Learn about the practice of making winter counts among some Native American groups.
  • Study the Lone Dog Winter Count.
  • Learn about history keeping in an oral culture.
  • Understand how storytellers use pictographs as mnemonic devices.
  • Create a pictograph calendar of a year in their own lives

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