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Native Law Studies Program

Deanna Wuttunee

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      MARCH 1981      v11 n03 p26  
No established, nation-wide community within Canadian society has virtually no representation in the legal profession or in the legal system other than Canadian Indians. Yet the number of Indian People in jails or appearing in Canadian courts is staggering.

The Native Law Centre, through its program for legal studies, has paved some inroads in an effort to assist in remedying the situation. In a 1973-1980 report they boast a 154 registration total of students in one or the other of its summer programs. They claim a 72 percent success rate of students going on to a regular law program. The legal studies program offers the opportunity for the student to assess and judge his capabilities in a law studies environment and therefore decide if he is suited or capable in that field. Of the 154, (54) students are women.

A prerequisite to the intensive eight-week course is admission to a regular law school. The program course is not watered down or misleading in any way. It is demanding and students have to be masters in budgeting their time to cover the overwhelming amount of work that has to be done.

Prior to 1973, there were only five people of native ancestry studying law in Canada as far as can be determined. Their numbers have grown to 45, and 34 of these have taken the Saskatchewan program. The centre has been instrumental in stimulating the development and organization of the Native Law Students Association of Canada, established in March, 1974. The Association has an active executive and membership serving to advance and stimulate interest among Indian people.

Before 1973, there were only four Indian lawyers in Canada, but by the spring of 1980, (44) native people had received their degrees; 28 took the Saskatchewan program.