Beyond Reconciliation: Decolonizing Clinical Legal Education
(2017) 26 Journal of Law and Social Policy 1-20
21 Pages Posted: 5 Oct 2017
Date Written: June 3, 2017
How can legal clinics and clinical legal educators respond to the ongoing harms of settler colonialism? At a time when "reconciliation" is top of mind for many legal educators in light of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls to action, can reconciliation be taken up in a meaningful way through clinical legal education? Does reconciliation demand decolonization and if so can clinical legal education work towards decolonization? These are the questions we consider in this article. Drawing on our respective experiences with the University of British Columbia and the University of Saskatchewan’s clinical law programs, and grounding our analysis in the critical literature on settler colonialism and decolonization, we propose that the aim of reconciliation, at least as it is typically understood, is not enough and that we must go further to challenge the structure of settler colonialism by decolonizing and Indigenizing clinical legal education. We argue that decolonial approaches and engagement with processes of Indigenization in both the academic and practical aspects of clinical law programs can intervene in normative legal education and challenge the colonial hegemony underpinning the Canadian legal system. Ultimately, we propose that it is unsettling, productive and essential for those of us involved with clinical legal education in Canada to learn with and from Indigenous communities about the challenges and possibilities of working towards decolonial justice.
Keywords: Reconciliation; Decolonization; Clinical Legal Education
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