The Kawaskimhon National Aboriginal Moot is unique among moot court competitions in the world, in that it is conducted in accordance with Aboriginal customs of peaceful negotiation and consensus-building rather than adversarial competition. Established in 1995, the moot attracts teams from law schools across Canada. Each team represents a different party in a complex negotiation concerning Aboriginal law, and works toward consensus with the help of Aboriginal facilitators and an elder. The format of Kawaskimhon, which is a Cree word meaning “to speak with knowledge,” encourages students to bring their unique personal perspectives to bear on a collective problem affecting Aboriginal peoples and to work toward a mutual consensus.
The Native Law Students Association of the University of Toronto held the first Kawaskimhon Moot in 1994. Since then, the moot has grown rapidly, attracting participation from more and more law schools each year. Presently, around 15 law schools from Canada participate each year.
There are no competitive awards, but the moot is invaluable in giving Aboriginal students and students interested in Aboriginal law an opportunity to forge bonds with each other and deepen their understanding of Aboriginal legal issues.
The moot takes place over two days. It is hosted by a different law school each year. Teams may represent a variety of parties including (depending on the nature of the problem) specific First Nations, Band Councils, “traditional” chiefs’ organizations, the Assembly of First Nations, federal government agencies, provincial government agencies, labour unions, human rights groups, and non-Aboriginal business or community groups.