Lawyers in Nova Scotia to receive Indigenous awareness training

Lawyers in Nova Scotia will begin taking Indigenous intercultural awareness and competency training starting this month.  (Robert Short/CBC - image credit)
Lawyers in Nova Scotia will begin taking Indigenous intercultural awareness and competency training starting this month. (Robert Short/CBC - image credit)

Lawyers in Nova Scotia will begin taking Indigenous intercultural awareness and competency training beginning this month.

The training is being offered in response to calls for action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

The Nova Scotia Barristers' Society says the course is mandatory for lawyers and is in response specifically to a call for law societies to make sure lawyers receive training.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission offered 94 such calls in 2015.

Jacqueline Mullenger, the society's senior director for operations and governance, said the training will help lawyers to better serve their clients and understand the life experience of Indigenous people.

"But it really gives you a beginning point to start to understand the history of Indigenous peoples in Canada, residential schools," Mullenger said. "And so it's not going to suddenly make you culturally competent, but it's a step along the path."

Mullenger said the training is not specific to Mi'kmaw communities, but Indigenous communities across Canada. She said the next step in bringing awareness to lawyers would be to offer learning specific to the Mi'kmaw culture.

The course is offered in six units, taking approximately an hour each.

Mullenger said the training is meant to offer better representation for all clients.

"Because that really helps you when you're representing people, whether it's in the criminal contest context, in property, to understand the background of those peoples so that you can serve them better," she said.

More will be offered in the future, according to Mullenger. "You don't just do one course and now suddenly you're competent."

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