UVic students at their walkout to protest discrimination against Indigenous people in Canada’s criminal justice system, image retrieved from https://www.timescolonist.com/news/local/at-uvic-hundreds-march-to-protest-built-in-racism-in-justice-system-1.23202181.
Last Wednesday, law students across Canada participated in walkouts, teach-ins and protests to bring awareness to the recent injustices felt by Indigenous peoples in our criminal justice system. Our blog covered the recent acquittal of Gerald Stanley, who was charged with second-degree murder for shooting Colten Boushie, 22. Injustice was further perpetuated in the acquittal of Raymond Cormier, who was charged with second-degree murder in the death of Tina Fontaine, 15. For many Canadians, these decisions solidified the systemic legal issues that Indigenous people continue to experience in the justice system. For Indigenous law students and allies, these protests were an effort to raise awareness of these injustices and to open up a dialogue in the law schools on issues that remained unaddressed.
At the University of Toronto, approximately 100 law students and faculty walked out of class and gathered for a teach-in. Leslie Anne St. Amour, a member of the Indigenous Law Students Association (ILSA) at U of T, explained that Indigenous perspectives need to be brought into the law school classroom, and that students and faculty need to be educated on systemic issues. Furthermore, law students need to be taught that there are Indigenous legal traditions that exist as well. 
In the West, both the University of British Columbia and the University of Victoria also engaged in walkouts to draw awareness to the issue. At UBC, Dawn Johnson, a second-year law student and a member of ILSA, explained that the walkout “forces people to take a look and realize that this is happening and that this is very real in our society.” The protest moved outside, accompanied by drummers, where a large circle was formed where attendees voiced their opinion on the recent cases as well as the marginalization of Indigenous people. Richard Rupertson, an education student, spoke out about his experience with the justice system as an Indigenous youth, stating, “As a 13-year-old, I remember being picked up by the police for something I didn’t do and then taken to the police station and made to walk home with no shoes, and they wouldn’t let me make a phone call.”
The University of Victoria’s walkout had the largest turnout of protesters, with roughly 300 students and faculty present. The protest was aimed at drawing attention to a system that is failing Indigenous peoples. Sarah Robinson, a member of the Fort Nelson First Nation and Salteau People, and spokesperson for UVic’s ILSA, explained that the system is starting to reveal itself as a one designed to enforce power and authority, often at the expense of basic fairness. She stated as an example, that people of colour are more frequently “carded” (stopped by police and asked for identification). 
Although the Indigenous Law Students’ Association at the University of Alberta did not participate in the walkouts and teach-ins on March 14th, they marked their support for their fellow law students participating in the protests on their facebook page. In an effort to start a discussion on these issues, the group will be hosting “Indigenous Voices” this Friday, March 23rd. The event will have a panel of speakers from the Faculty of Native Studies, a bundle carrier for MMIWG, as well as Indigenous legal professionals, who will engage in round-table discussions with the law students and faculty members to discuss these injustices and promote awareness within the Faculty of Law.
We thank all the Legal Warriors who are standing up for Indigenous people in this fight for justice. Kinanâskomitin.
Until next time,
Team ReconciliAction YEG
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 Rhiannon Johnson, “U of T law students walk out of class for teach-in on Colten Boushie, Tina Fontaine cases”, CBC News (14 March 2018), online: https://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/toronto-law-students-walkout-teach-in-boushie-fontaine-1.4576369.
 Joshua Azizi and Aidan Tong, “Students walk out to protest systemic legal issues facing Indigenous people”, The Ubyssey (14 March 2018), online: https://www.ubyssey.ca/news/day-of-action-walk-out/.
 “At UVic, hundreds march to protest ‘built-in racism’ in justice system”, Times Colonist (14 March 2018), online: https://www.timescolonist.com/news/local/at-uvic-hundreds-march-to-protest-built-in-racism-in-justice-system-1.23202181.
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