Latest Reconciliation Primers Explore Legal Pluralism
September 27, 2023
BY Megan Vis-Dunbar
This September marks the 16 year anniversary of the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN Declaration) by the UN General Assembly. In 2019, the BC government committed in the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act to “take all measures necessary to ensure the laws of British Columbia are consistent with the [UN] Declaration”, in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous peoples. This legal obligation is mirrored in the federal United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act passed in 2021.
Meeting these legal obligations will require collaboration between Indigenous and Crown governments as well as the building and maintaining of respectful relationships between different and distinct systems of law. Legal pluralism offers a useful framework to demonstrate ways in which people manage differing systems of law and jurisdiction.
The BCLI has released three new primers on legal pluralism to support legal practitioners and those in the legal/policy community working with Crown law institutions in understanding some of the ways in which multiple systems of law can operate together.
Primer 3, Legal Pluralism in Canada looks at the way in which the Canadian state has always recognized coexisting sources of law, for example provincial and federal sources of law. Understanding the arrangements that Crown laws already use can support their application to other legal relationships.
Primer 4, Legal Pluralism: Indigenous Legal Orders & Other State Jurisdictions explores ways in which other state jurisdictions have built frameworks for the operation of state and Indigenous laws through state constitutions, state legislation and state court procedures.
Primer 5, Legal Pluralism: Indigenous Legal Orders & Canadian State Law is a collaborative publication with the Indigenous Law Research Unit at the University of Victoria. It explores the interactions of different systems of law and jurisdiction in what is now known as Canada from two perspectives: 1) as between Indigenous legal orders and 2) as between the Canadian state and Indigenous legal orders.
With the adoption of the Declaration Act and recent amendments to the BC Interpretation Act, legal practitioners must turn their minds to what it means to construe every act and regulation in a manner consistent with the UN Declaration. Lawyers will also be increasingly called upon to engage with non-state laws. These primers, together with our earlier primers on The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and BC’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act and Indigenous Laws are intended as guides to support increased understanding of what these changes mean in practice.