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Cree Law and the Duty to Assist in the Present Day by Professor DAVID MILWARD

The world's first ever joint degree in both common law and Indigenous legal orders is now in its second year of operation at the University of Victoria Law School. It is a four-year law degree program where students take early year transsystemic law courses that expose them to both fundamental areas of Canadian law (e.g. constitutional, criminal, property) and laws originating from several different Indigenous legal orders, as well as field school courses where they are exposed to law as lived experiences in Indigenous communities. Another mandate of the program is for faculty to engage in research that explores laws originating from Indigenous legal orders and their possible use in contemporary communities...


...Perhaps self-determination in its truest sense can only be realized through a fulsome implementation of Call to Action 42 from the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.It reads:

We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial governments to commit to the recognition and implementation of Aboriginal justice systems in a manner consistent with the Treaty and Aboriginal rights of Aboriginal peoples, the Constitution Act, 1982, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, endorsed by Canada in November 2012


...The question entertained by this paper is to what extent the law that required helping fellow community members can be a law that is used in full force as a part of Cree self-determination. It could be that the law is alive and well in some Indigenous communities and that it continues to guide life in Cree communities to this day. Although, the extent to which that is the case remains uncertain and undocumented. A possible merit of implementing Call to Action #42 is that it guarantees a legal space for the Cree law to operate without external constraints, where otherwise it could end up suppressed or driven 'under the table' by Canadian state law. And, for purposes of the discussion in this paper, that state law is decidedly against imposing a general duty to assist.




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