Osgoode and York University provide a welcoming environment with culturally safe and community-informed support services and programing for Indigenous students. We’ve also made clear, substantive commitments to reconciliation and justice.
An Institutional Commitment
One of six key focus areas in our 2021-2025 strategic plan is advancing reconciliation and justice. This strategic priority commits us to advancing existing Indigenization and decolonization efforts at the Law School, and to developing a number of new initiatives. Examples of new strategic initiatives include the development of an Elder-in-Residence program and the creation of a KGN Transition program (from the Anishinaabe phrase kendaasiwin gichi naakinegewin) to support newly admitted Indigenous students.
The Osgoode Indigenous Students’ Association (OISA) provides a social support network for Indigenous students, raises awareness about Indigenous legal issues within the Law School and organizes forums and events. Past events have included a panel focused on the Idle No More movement, visits and talks by Wab Kinew of 8th Fire and former National Chief Assembly of First Nations Phil Fontaine, and participation in the Indigenous Bar Association conference.
On-campus Leadership and Cultural Space
Osgoode’s Program Manager and Special Advisor, Indigenous and Reconciliation Initiatives provides mentorship, support and advice specifically for Indigenous JD students and promotes Indigenization within the Law School. Indigenous students, staff and faculty have access to Skennen’ko:wa Gamig, a dedicated safe cultural space on campus that hosts programming and is also available for informal use as the centre for Indigenous community life at York University.
York University Resources
Osgoode students can also connect with the Indigenous Students’ Association at York (ISAY) and the Centre for Aboriginal Student Services, which is designed to meet the needs of York’s Aboriginal Community.
A Distinct Admissions Category for Indigenous Applicants
As part of our commitment to bringing more Indigenous voices and perspectives into our Law School and the legal profession, Osgoode has a distinct admissions category for Indigenous applicants.
To apply under the Indigenous category, applicants must provide documentation corroborating their identification with and connection to an Indigenous community. This can include a demonstration of service, involvement or leadership within the community, on Indigenous issues, or within Indigenous circles. If the Admissions Committee determines that an application includes insufficient documentation of Indigenous identity or connection, it will be reviewed according to the criteria for General applicants.
Holistic Admissions Policy
The files of all applicants – Indigenous and non-Indigenous – are reviewed in accordance with our holistic admissions policy, which considers both academic and non-academic strengths, and contemplates candidates’ ability to successfully complete law school.
In addition to the funding available to all students, Osgoode and other entities – including bands and governments – offer a range of scholarships and funding sources specifically for Indigenous students.
Diverse Programming in Indigenous Legal Perspectives
Osgoode has one of the best Aboriginal and Indigenous law programs in North America. Our faculty bring exceptional depth of expertise in Indigenous legal perspectives, and our Law School offers many ways for students to explore this diverse area of scholarship and practice.
The Intensive Program in Indigenous Lands, Resources and Governments
Students pursuing this intensive, one of our flagship experiential programs, have opportunities to study applied legal issues in a specific context, completing a two-month externship placement – close to home or across the world – as well as in-class activity. Learn more ›
Further Experiential Learning Opportunities
- Osgoode students can also participate in an annual Anishinaabe Law Camp which offers Indigenous and non-Indigenous law students an introduction to Anishinaabe legal concepts, principles, pedagogies and modes of reasoning.
- Each year Osgoode students participate in the Kawaskimhon Aboriginal Moot, a large table negotiation where students from across Canada debate and negotiate Aboriginal legal issues.
- The Debwewin Internship, offered in collaboration with the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General, is designed for students interested in providing community education and legal support to First Nations, Métis or Inuit communities and community organizations in Ontario.
The Indigenous and Aboriginal Law Requirement
Every Osgoode student is required to complete a course that focusses on Indigenous and Aboriginal legal issues and engages with Indigenous laws, Aboriginal law and skills related to serving Indigenous clients.
Indigenous Legal Perspectives in the Curriculum
Many of Osgoode’s courses and seminars incorporate Indigenous legal perspectives. Course offerings related to Indigenous Law include:
- Indigenous Peoples and Canadian Law
- Indigenous Perspectives and Realities
- Indigenous Peoples: Law and Settler Society
- Natural Resources Law
- International Human Rights Law
- Comparative Law: Indigenous Legal Traditions
- Rights and Reconciliation: Indigenous Peoples and the Law
Leading Indigenous Rights and Indigenous Law Scholars
Some of the world’s leading Aboriginal Rights and Indigenous Law Scholars are based at Osgoode. View their individual faculty pages to explore their work.