Law with Heart and Beadwork: Decolonizing Legal Education, Developing Indigenous Legal Pedagogy, and Healing Community

Title: Law with Heart and Beadwork: Decolonizing Legal Education, Developing Indigenous Legal Pedagogy, and Healing Community
Authors: Lussier, Danielle
Date: 2021-04-16
Abstract: Employing decolonized, Indigenous research methods, the author considers Métis Beadwork Practice through the analytical lens of Therapeutic Jurisprudence and establishes the practice as a holistic Indigenous Legal Pedagogy for knowledge creation and mobilization in legal education. The author agrees with Drs. Friedland and Napoleon who suggest that a significant challenge in and to Indigenous legal research is that such research occupies a space of “deep absence,” with the starting line moved back as a consequence of colonialism. Building on the work of Dr. Shawn Wilson, the author espouses an Indigenous Research Paradigm which requires a prioritization of the relationship to the ideas and making space for non-linear logic systems and Indigenous ways of knowing in scholarly research. In her work, the author prioritizes synthesis over deconstruction on the belief that deconstructing relationships to ideas for the purpose of analyzing them would have the effect of damaging the cognitive and emotional relationships developed through the research ceremony. While the work embodies the four essential elements of autoethnography, the author argues that the work of Indigenous scholars speaking in their own voices is sui generis in nature. She argues that Indigenous scholars who employ storytelling and other culturally-relevant knowledge mobilization practices are engaging a distinct Indigenous Research Method. This work ultimately progresses in a non-linear fashion and incorporates extra-intellectual knowledge including poetry, music, and photography. The use of multiple fonts and other formatting devices including right justification are used to underline shifts in voice and perspective throughout the work. These pedagogical choices valourize the ways of knowing of Indigenous women and honour the author’s Métis worldview, including her understanding that all things are interrelated. The author examines, and ultimately eschews, notions of neutral objectivity in research as colonial constructs that undermine Indigenous Knowledge Systems and contribute to the ongoing colonization of Indigenous peoples in post-secondary education. Following an introduction to the legal and social history of Forced Assimilative Education of Indigenous Peoples in Canada, the author reviews recent research into ongoing colonialism, racism, and ethno-stress experienced by Indigenous Learners in post-secondary education. The ii author subsequently explores the specific concern of the subjugation and erasure of Indigenous women’s knowledge in academia. She conducts a review of existing literature in the sphere of Feminist Legal Theory, examining and ultimately rejecting intersectionality and conceptualizations of sisterhood as possible remedies to discrimination faced by Indigenous women legal scholars. She argues that the lived experience of Indigenous women is situated not at an intersection, but rather in the centre of a colonialism collision. As a consequence, the author argues that existing Feminist Legal Theory does not create adequate space for Indigenous difference, experiences, or worldviews. Offering insight into legal education, legal ethics, and professionalization processes, the author also explores questions of lived experience of Indigenous lawyers beyond the legal academy. She argues that learning the language of law is but the first element in a complex professionalization process that engages structures of patriarchal hierarchy in addition to the other forces, including colonialism and racism, that shape the legal profession. She further argues that, for Indigenous peoples, learning to speak the linear, official language of legal education represents a collision of even more complex systems of dominance, with the regulated approach to learning and problem-solving standing in direct opposition to Indigenous ways of knowing. Consequently, Indigenous law Learners frequently experience an intellectual rupture when engaging in the professional assimilation process. The author offers an overview of Calls to Action 27, 28, 42, and 50 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and an introductory environmental scan of ongoing efforts to decolonize and indigenize law schools including land-based learning and the development of Indigenous Course Requirements (ICRs). The author subsequently considers the process of decolonizing the legal academy through the analytical lenses of Therapeutic Jurisprudence and Therapeutic Jurisprudence+. She ultimately positions the act of decolonizing legal education as an act grounded in decolonial love with the potential for healing individuals and communities struggling with ongoing colonialism and racism in the academy. Building on the work of the late Professor Patricia Monture-Angus and contemporary Indigenous legal scholars including Drs. Tracey Lindberg, Darcy Lindberg, Val Napoleon, and John Burrows, the author considers possibilities for reimaging legal education through the development and use of Indigenous Legal Pedagogies. The author argues that Beadwork Practice holds a distinctive language of possibility as an Indigenous Legal Pedagogical practice as a result of deeply entrenched links between beads and law. The author explores the social and legal history of beads as a tool for legal knowledge production and mobilization in the context of wampum belts and beyond, including the use of Métis beadwork as a mnemonic device to facilitate intergenerational knowledge transfer of stories and songs that carry law. Further, she examines colonial law and policy that served to undermine the legal value of beads, and canvases emerging trends in the revitalization of community beadwork practice. Finally, the author positions Beadwork Practice as a holistic Indigenous Legal Pedagogy to support not only the revitalization of Indigenous Legal Orders and the development of cross-cultural competency as required under Calls to Action 27 and 28, but also therapeutic objectives of individual and community healing.
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -