This May, our team was fortunate to attend an Indigenous Laws Workshop run by the Indigenous Law Research Unit (ILRU), as made possible by the MakeWay Foundation. The focus of these days was to address how the environmental sector can work in a more respectful relationship with Indigenous legal orders. This includes beginning to see and recognize Indigenous law operating around us.
We are so thankful for the wealth of knowledge that was shared and the thoughtful discussions still being provoked by these workshops. We raise our hands to the ILRU, MakeWay Foundation and the many hands who helped make this possible. It was an important step in our organization’s ongoing and committed journey to better uphold Indigenous laws.
The ILRU team were great guides in fostering these important conversations. Housed in the University of Victoria’s Faculty of Law, the ILRU is an academic research institute dedicated to the revitalization of Indigenous law and governance. They believe Indigenous laws need to be taken seriously as laws. And their vision is for Indigenous laws to be living and in use on the ground, and to be researched, taught and theorized about just as other great legal traditions of the world are (you can learn more about ILRU here). We at Sierra Club BC are committed to supporting them in this vision and recognize that we have an important role to play within the environmental sector.
We’d like to offer our thanks to Brad and Margot Assu who opened these workshops in a good way by guiding us around the Nuyumbalees Cultural Centre. Brad is a direct descendent of Chief Billy Assu who is considered one of the most respected potlatch chiefs in Ligwilda’xw history. It was an honour to witness the Kikasuw~the sacred Potlatch collection and regalia, and hear the stories they carry.
We are also grateful to Chief Dave Knox (Kwakiutl) and Rueben George (Tsleil-Waututh) for sharing their insights throughout these sessions as grounded in their own traditions. These conversations added even more wealth to the days.