The 2012 Kawaskimhon National Aboriginal Rights Moot took place at Wanuskewin Heritage Park on March 3-4 with an opening reception on March 2 at the College of Law. The event was hosted by the University of Saskatchewan College of Law, the Native Law Centre and the Aboriginal Law Students Association.
View photos from the event.
Kawaskimhon means "speaking with knowledge." This moot is non-competitive and based on current issues in indigenous-government relations. Law schools from across Canada represent various interested parties and are required to prepare written arguments and give oral presentations on matters arising out of the selected moot problem. Each law school represents one or two parties participating in the negotiations. The moot is conducted in a circle format. The objective of the moot is to attempt to reach a consensus on the issues raised by the moot problem.
In 1993, the Native Law Students Association of the University of Toronto had a vision. That vision was to create a forum where Aboriginal rights could be debated by Aboriginal law students from across the country. The vision was inspired by an unwavering belief in the oral abilities of Aboriginal law students to speak to the issues of Aboriginal rights. Aboriginal students bring a unique perspective, analysis and understanding to the debate and Aboriginal law students are capable of “speaking with knowledge”. The vision was to create a moot with subject matter about Aboriginal rights, a unique moot by, about and for Aboriginal students.
The values which underwrite this vision are clear. The Aboriginal Rights Moot is to benefit all Aboriginal people by creating a public forum for Aboriginal issues. The moot is to be non-competitive, in the sense that there are no prizes, no winners and no losers. The moot encourages Aboriginal students to study and debate Aboriginal rights in the depth that, within the limits of law school, only such an exercise as mooting allows.
The format of this moot is unique: it is designed to respect and incorporate Aboriginal values and concepts of dispute resolution. The participants sit in a large circle and make their presentation from locations around the circle. Four facilitators, representing the four directions, sit around the circle and comment on the presentation with the goal being to reach a consensus on the issues at stake.
2012 Moot Problem
Both the problem and possible outcomes are open-ended. The 2012 moot was an exercise in multi-party negotiations to develop a process for dealing with the interpretation of the historic treaties, such as the numbered treaties, the Treaties of Peace and Friendship, the Robinson Treaties and the Douglas Treaties. The nature of the process (or processes) and practical issues - e.g., concerning enforceability - will be determined by the participants in the negotiations.
Appellate factums were not required. Instead, written proposals addressed issues, both procedural and substantive, that the circle considered in the development of a process to address issues arising from the historic treaties.
Keeper of the Circle
Banquet Guest Speaker
Professor Norman Zlotkin joined the College of Law, University of Saskatchewan in 1981. He is currently Associate Dean, Academic, at the College. He was Research Director of the Native Law Centre (1982-86). He is a member of the Law Societies of Saskatchewan and Upper Canada. Prior to appointment, Professor Zlotkin practised law in Ontario (1973-81), specializing in the rights of Aboriginal peoples. He was a member of the legal team of the Assembly of First Nations and Nishnawbe-Aski Nation for the First Ministers Conferences in 1983-85 and 1987. He has acted as Director of the College's Academic Support Program. Professor Zlotkin has coached many of the Kawaskimhon teams from the University of Saskatchewan. As well, Professor Zlotkin was the co-ordinator of the 1998 and 2005 Kawaskimhon Moots hosted by the Faculty of Law and Native Law Centre.
University of Saskatchewan, College of Law
University of Saskatchewan, Native Law Centre
University of Saskatchewan, Aboriginal Law Students Association
The financial support of the following organizations is gratefully acknowledged:
Canadian Bar Association - Saskatchewan Branch
Department of Justice Canada
Semaganis, Worme Law Office, Saskatoon
Maurice Law, Calgary
A Special Thanks
A special thank you to the many dedicated people including those from the Native Law Centre, Aboriginal Law Students Association and the College of Law, who have been working very hard in organizing Kawaskimhon 2012. A special mention to Wanda McCaslin of the Native Law Centre; Michelle Halvorson, Jennifer Knorr, and Lorrie Burlingham of the College of Law. Without all their help the Moot would not have happened.
For more information:
Associate Dean, Academic