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Home Access to Justice Week Programming A2J Week 2021: Building blocks: Towards cultural competency in the justice sector

A2J Week 2021: Building blocks: Towards cultural competency in the justice sector

October 25, 2021
Monday, October, 25, 2021
3 - 4:30 pm
This program contains 1 hour and 30 minutes of EDI Professionalism Content.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s call to actions 27 and 28 focus on cultural competency training for lawyers and law students. This session explores the building blocks of cultural competence, including programs and other courses provided by law schools and in other institutions, as well as work undertaken by the Federation of Canadian Law Societies in response to the calls to action. A panel with representatives from academia, the Ministry of the Attorney General, the Federation, and the Law Society of Ontario will discuss the progress made to date as well as the work that still needs to be done.
After this session, participants will:
  • Understand the importance of cultural competency and the current landscape of cultural competency in the legal professions
  • Know more about the current programs in place related to cultural competency in Ontario and across Canada
  • Understand the next steps required to address the TRC calls to action 27 and 28.



Jeffrey Hewitt is an associate professor at Osgoode Law School. After graduating from Osgoode with an LLB in 1996, Professor Hewitt returned to complete his LLM in 2015. His research interests include Indigenous legal orders and governance, constitutional law, human rights, legal education, business law, as well as art + law and visual legal studies. Professor Hewitt has presented his research work nationally and internationally to a range of audiences. He is mixed-descent Cree, was called to the Bar in Ontario in 1998 and works with Rama First Nation as well as various Indigenous Elders, leaders and organizers in the promotion of Indigenous legal orders. He served as past president of the Indigenous Bar Association of Canada, and a director of Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto. Professor Hewitt is on the executive of Legal Leaders for Diversity and serves as a director of the Indigenous Bar Association Foundation and the National Theatre School of Canada. He received a 2019 Law Society of Ontario Medal, numerous awards from the University of Windsor and Osgoode law school, the 2015 Charles D. Gonthier Fellowship from the Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice and a 2011 Canadian General Counsel Award for social responsibility.

Dr. Jula Hughes is the dean of law at the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law at Lakehead University. The Bora Laskin Faculty of Law is the sole northern Ontario law school and it focuses on three special mandates in Indigenous & Aboriginal law, natural resources & environmental law, and small town, solo and rural practice. Dean Hughes is the recipient of multiple research grants, has published extensively in Canadian and international journals, has contributed chapters to various selections of essays and is a regular speaker at international, national and regional conferences. Her research focuses on judicial ethics, particularly the law and practice of judicial disqualification; criminal law, particularly the application of criminal law to marginalized populations; and Aboriginal law, particularly the legal recognition of and provision of services to off-reserve and non-status Indigenous People.

Kathleen Lickers is Seneca and a member of the Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation in southern Ontario.  She was called to the Ontario bar in 1995. Kathleen was associate counsel and then commission counsel to the Indian (Specific) Claims Commission – predecessor to the Specific Claims Tribunal of Canada.  In 1997, Kathleen took leave of the Commission to join the Toronto law firm Blakes (formerly Blakes, Cassels & Graydon) as legal counsel. In September 2003 she established her own law firm at Six Nations. She currently serves as an adjudicator to the Law Society of Ontario Tribunal, is a senior external advisor to the Office of the Auditor General of Canada and an external legal advisor to the Assembly of First Nations.  Kathleen is a former treasurer of the Indigenous Bar Association, previous co- chair of the Indigenous Advisory Group to the Law Society of Ontario and is currently a board member with The Advocates Society. Kathleen is a Law Society medalist and was inducted as Indigenous Peoples counsel in 2018 by the Indigenous Bar Association.

Dr. Kirsten Manley-Casimir is currently acting legal director with the Indigenous Justice Division (IJD). In her PhD dissertation, Kirsten advocates for a relational approach to the duty to consult and accommodate Aboriginal peoples under section 35 of the Constitution Act.  She works on constitutional law and civil litigation review.  Kirsten taught at Osgoode Hall Law School and Queen’s University as an adjunct professor in courses focused on Aboriginal law and indigenous legal systems. In addition, along with IJD colleagues, Elders and Knowledge Keepers, Kirsten delivers the award-winning Bimickaway curriculum to Ministry of the Attorney General and other justice sector workers. As a non-Indigenous lawyer, a key thread that runs through all her work at IJD is the concept of ‘lawyering for reconciliation.’  IJD uses this approach to lawyering in all its work and encourages all government lawyers to use, even in the context of adversarial litigation.


Dianne Corbiere
Bencher, Law Society of Ontario
Chair, Equity and Indigenous Affairs Committee

Terms or Concepts Explained