Native Law Centre

Illustration: U of S Archives, A-5088. Law student Rodney Soonias speaks at the opening of the Native Law Centre in January 1976.

In June of 1973, the University of Saskatchewan offered an unique Summer School class through the College of Law. For some time Dean Roger Carter had been concerned about the low number of aboriginal students entering the College of Law. In 1973 there were only four lawyers and five students of native ancestry in Canada. On a visit to the New Mexico Law School, Carter studied the program which was to serve as a model for the University of Saskatchewan. The result was the establishment of the Program of Legal Studies for Native People. It was to be an eight week course designed to prepare native students for formal studies at one of Canada’s twenty law schools.  Both status and non-status students were eligible for assistance from the federal government for the course itself and throughout their subsequent legal studies. In 1975 administration of the program was transferred to the newly created Native Law Centre whose mandate it was to establish further support of undergraduate and graduate study, teaching, and research in areas of law involving native persons. By 1997 there were an estimated 500 lawyers and 12 judges of First Nations ancestry in Canada, of which 353 lawyers and 6 judges had been introduced to the law via the Saskatchewan program.