a) What if I can demonstrate I have already taken Indigenous intercultural awareness and competency training through another provider?
The Law Society and the Indigenous Advisory Committee recognize that many lawyers have taken other Indigenous intercultural awareness and competency training. Our belief is the more education, the better; there is much to learn and it cannot all be learned in a single course or program. Having all practising Manitoba lawyers take The Path ensures the profession has a common foundation of knowledge on which to build. It is also necessary for the Law Society to comply with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action #27, which we have committed to doing. We encourage lawyers to continue to look for opportunities to increase their knowledge and understanding in this area as it is a journey.
b) What if I am an Indigenous lawyer with lived experience and a history with the issues covered in the course, and the course would be triggering for me?
The Indigenous Advisory Committee gave extensive consideration to whether the Law Society should provide an exemption to Indigenous lawyers from the requirement to take The Path. The Committee recognizes that many Indigenous lawyers have both lived experience with and knowledge of the issues covered in The Path and portions of the course may be triggering. In appropriate circumstances, members may request reasonable accommodation (see next question).
The Committee wanted to avoid a pan-Indigenous approach in which assumptions are made that all Indigenous peoples possess particular knowledge of or experience with this history. Additionally, the Committee does not expect all Indigenous lawyers to know all there is to know about all the topics listed in the TRC’s Call to Action #27. The Path covers a wide range of topics and is meant to be engaging for all learners, including those with lived experience and previous knowledge. For example, Métis lawyers may learn about the history and perspectives of First Nations and Inuit peoples and vice versa. The members of the Committee reported learning new things about other Indigenous groups from The Path. The Committee also thinks it is important for Indigenous lawyers to know what their non-Indigenous colleagues are learning.
In addition to the available supports listed in the Resources section below, the Law Society will also offer optional, facilitated sessions where Indigenous lawyers can gather in a culturally supportive space with the presence of an Elder to discuss their experiences taking The Path. More details will be made available once these arrangements have been finalized.