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.
What You Need to Know
- This moot is typically a multi-party negotiation that takes place over three days, usually in accordance with Indigenous Dispute Resolution protocols
- The host law school sets the moot problem and requires the submission of a written document prior to the negotiations (past examples have included a draft community-based law, position paper, policy and regulations, etc.), which are reviewed by an assigned table supervisor
- This moot simulates complex, multi-party negotiations supervised by either a judge or expert in Indigenous legal orders and/or Aboriginal law
- The moot is hosted by a different law school annually, and held at the host law school in early March
- The team is comprised of four oralists, who are subsequently placed into two teams when the host law school assigns a party role for the negotiations. Often the Osgoode teams share common research and then modify their presentation and negotiation strategy based on their assigned role
- Team members will have to be available to take part in a weekly team meeting at a day and time that will be determined by the coach
- A “Call for Applications” is emailed, by the mooting office, at the same time the upper year consolidated mooting tryouts take place
- Team members receive three graded credits for their participation, which will be applied in the Winter term
- Team members are NOT required to enroll in the Appellate Advocacy Workshop
- Team members are expected to have completed one course in Aboriginal or Indigenous Law, such as Native Rights/Indigenous Peoples and Canada Law, First Nations and the Law, the perspective option on Indigenous Peoples and the Law, or the Introduction to Indigenous legal traditions, or a similar course with Indigenous and/or Aboriginal law, by the Fall term of the year they compete