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Activist Joan Jack was the first guest speaker in law professor Dr. Bryan Schwartz's new course Oral History, Indigenous Peoples and the Law, which is open to the public.

Activist Joan Jack was the first guest speaker in law professor Dr. Bryan Schwartz's new course Oral History, Indigenous Peoples and the Law, which is open to the public.

Law professor opens classroom to everyone

New course on Oral History, Indigenous Peoples and the Law welcomes public to learn from guest speakers

January 21, 2019 — 

Activist, Educator and Lawyer, Joan Jack [BEd/82 UM, LLB/91 UBC], was the first guest lecture of the term to Dr. Bryan Schwartz’s inaugural class on Oral History, Indigenous Peoples and the Law. The classroom, open to the public, filled with second and third-year law students, community members and friends of Jack to hear Jack’s talk, titled, “WE ARE ALL HERE TO STAY”: Indigenous and Common Law Legal Conflicts.

Dr. Schwartz began the class by explaining the importance of Oral History in preserving evidence, culture, and its role in the legal system. “We are hoping that students can come away from this course with training in how to do Oral Histories and to work with Indigenous communities,” said Schwartz.

Schwartz introduced Jack as a “faultlessly honest individual.” Schwartz also shared that he has known Jack for a long time through his work with Indigenous organizations, including representing the Assembly of First Nations, and his involvement in the Specific Claims Tribunal.

Know the value of our land

Raised in Berens River First Nation, Jack, who is Aanishinaabe Ikwe, brought a different perspective to the classic Canadian Constitutional Law lesson, by outlining the differences between the legal system of Indigenous people and Canadian Constitution that govern Indigenous people. Jack explained that she was taught by her property law professor that “all title rests in the Crown”, while “we’ve taught our children that this is their land.”

“It is so important to know the value of our land,” Jack said, explaining that her husband would cook and eat every part of the moose he had hunted. “The idea that you can separate yourself from your land,” she said, was a concept very far removed from how Indigenous people lived in the land.

All welcome to attend future talks

Jack’s talk was a powerful introduction to the course, which will continue to keep its doors open to the public for the rest of the term. Complete video recordings of each lecture will be added to Robson Hall’s Youtube Channel as they become available.

Upcoming guest speakers and their talk titles are as follows:

Class Guest Speaker Date
Class #2: Eyewitness Testimony in Modern-Day Trials Prof. David Ireland Jan. 17
Class #3: Traditional Storytelling Flora Zaharia Jan. 24
Class #4: The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation & Oral History Sarra Deane Jan. 31
Class #5: Biblical & African Oral Histories Justin Jaron Lewis & Dr. Eliakim Sibanda Feb. 7
Class #6: Anthropological & Other Types of Historical Evidence Dr. Emoke Szathmary Feb. 28
Class #7: Courts of Law & Oral Traditions Dr. John Borrows March 7
Classes #8 & 9: Oral History Workshop Kimberly Moore March 14 & 21
Class #10: Oral History in Practice: Cross-Cultural Training & First Nations Ancestry Dr. Darren Courchene March 28


Lectures will take place every Thursday from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. in Room 206, Robson Hall Faculty of Law, 224 Dysart Road, Winnipeg.

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