Indigenous Cultural Competency Education Update
In October, the Law Society approved Indigenous Cultural Competency education for all active Alberta lawyers. The selected program, called The Path (National), was vetted by Indigenous lawyers and the Indigenous Advisory Committee. Within the Law Society, it was also vetted by the LCC, the Indigenous Initiatives Liaison and Benchers. The Path (National) also has the endorsement of the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) and is well-regarded across Canada. Having selected The Path (National), we began work to develop Alberta specific content to make our own version, which we refer to as The Path (Alberta).
We will launch The Path (Alberta) in spring 2021 and lawyers will have 18 months from the launch date to complete the program. The 18-month timeline will apply to all lawyers who change to active status following the launch of The Path (Alberta), effective from the date they become active.
We understand that the content in The Path (Alberta) may be repetitive for some lawyers who have previously had training in this area, but for many it will be new. Since The Path (Alberta) contains new Alberta-specific content not in The Path (National), we welcome all lawyers to complete the Alberta program, even if they have other Indigenous cultural competency education and learnings that meet our exemption criteria.
Please keep in mind, this educational opportunity is not meant to be in depth and cover every issue or perspective on the topic of Indigenous cultural competency. It is a starting point for lawyers to gain a basic understanding of Indigenous history and issues in Canada and Alberta. We believe that lawyers have an ongoing obligation to educate themselves on the issues that are relevant to the communities where they live and practise law.
The Path (Alberta): Timelines, Costs and Exemptions
The Law Society has approved several key parameters including timelines, costs and exemptions for the Indigenous Cultural Competency education. For more information, view our FAQ.
All active lawyers will be given 18 months to complete The Path (Alberta), which constitutes approximately six hours of online education. The 18-month timeline will apply to all lawyers who change to active status following the launch of the program, effective from the date they become active.
Inactive or suspended lawyers that complete The Path (Alberta) while inactive, will meet the education requirement upon reinstating to active status.
There are a few parameters that have been approved in regard to costs:
- There is no additional cost to active and inactive Alberta lawyers to take The Path (Alberta) through the Law Society.
- Costs for the program will not be covered for suspended lawyers.
- Alberta lawyers who have completed The Path (National) through other organizations, including the CBA, will not be reimbursed for the cost of the program.
Alberta lawyers who have completed The Path (National) through the CBA or another organization or have completed the Indigenous Canada program at the University of Alberta, will meet the education requirement and are exempt from taking The Path (Alberta). However, lawyers that meet the exemption are still welcome to complete The Path (Alberta) if they are interested.
In addition, Alberta lawyers that certify they have previous education or knowledge equivalent to The Path (National) or The Path (Alberta) will be exempt if they choose not to take the program. The previous education or knowledge equivalent should include training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights and anti-racism. As well, the education must be sufficient to address Call to Action 27 which includes:
- History and legacy of residential schools
- United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
- Treaties and Aboriginal rights
- Indigenous law (Indigenous legal traditions)
- Aboriginal-Crown relations
We understand that lawyers may receive Indigenous cultural competency education in many ways, and this adds complexity to making exemptions. It is expected that lawyers will come forward with courses offered by universities and other learning institutions. Others will have experiences with Aboriginal law and Indigenous law or legal traditions. And we also know that cultural experiences and Indigenous status or ancestry may be raised.
The Law Society will not pre-emptively evaluate or accredit individual programs or experience. Lawyers seeking an exemption will be required to certify that they have met the criteria outlined above. Individual lawyers will be relied on to make their own assessment of their prior education and experiences.
The Law Society will establish an audit program to review exemption certifications.