UFV Indigenous Land Claims certificate marks turning point for law student

UFV Indigenous Land Claims certificate marks turning point for law student
When Cassandra Enns first heard of UFV’s Indigenous Maps, Films, Rights and Land Claims certificate in 2012, she was pursuing a Bachelor of Arts at UBC.

The subject matter was of interest to the Geography undergrad and the four-week intensive summer format fit well in her schedule.

She applied and prepared to attend, not realizing that her decision was setting a new course for her life and career.

Now, looking back, she sees the experience as a turning point.  “UFV’s Indigenous Maps, Films, Rights and Land Claims certificate was the most eye-opening course I ever took in my undergraduate career,” says Cassandra. “It totally changed my perspective and has fuelled my passions ever since.”

Shortly after completing the program, she started looking for a co-op placement. “I was hired as a co-op student at the Specific Claims Branch at Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada,” Cassandra explains. “I did not have any previous co-op experience. It was my first co-op term and this position was looking for mature co-op students. I am confident that the certificate is solely what made me competitive and considered.”

As a research assistant, Cassandra supported negotiation analysts by conducting research, gathering information, and preparing analyses and summaries for the purpose of settling claims submitted by First Nations.

For the 14 months she was employed at the Specific Claims Branch, she used and built on the skills that she had acquired in the Indigenous Maps, Films, Rights and Land Claims certificate.

“The program is invaluable for students interested in truth, justice, and reconciliation from a philosophical and reflective perspective,” says Ken Brealey, UFV associate professor of Geography. “But we also equip students with practical and conceptual research skills that they can put to work in the field. We look at issue-specific claims and interim measures agreements, in Indigenous schools, and through litigation in court.  We come at this from many angles. We focus on a range of representational practices, including film, oral histories, documentaries, surveys and maps, legal discourse analysis, and more.”

In-class learning is supported by practicum work, visits to field sites, and guest lectures or visits by Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal experts working in the area of comprehensive land claims and treaty negotiations.

“It’s an intensive four weeks,” says Brealey. “Many students find it life-enhancing.”

Cassandra, for one, went down a whole new career path as a result.  By the time she had completed her co-op term and wrapped up her undergraduate degree, she knew she had found her lifetime passion.

“This September, I started law school at Thompson Rivers University,” Cassandra says. “I hope to practice in the area of Indigenous law and rights.”

“I think the Indigenous Maps, Films, Rights and Land Claims certificate, combined with the experience and references I gained at Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, is what added the most value to my law school application,” she adds.

Cassandra was part of the first cohort to take the Indigenous Maps, Films, Rights and Land Claims certificate. The program runs every July on a four-day-on, three-day-off schedule, with the remainder of the summer semester (through to the second last week of August) available to complete assignments.

The team of instructors includes:

  • Hugh Brody, author, filmmaker and Tier I Canada Research Chair in Aboriginal Studies at UFV
  • Dr. Ken Brealey, associate professor of Geography, who brings extensive experience in the research and mapping of oral and documentary history, and comprehensive and specific claims;
  • Dr. David Schaepe, director and senior archaeologist at the Sto:lo Research and Resource Management Centre, who contributes extensive experience researching Stó:lō title, rights and heritage
  • Naxaxalhts’i (Albert ‘Sonny’ McHalsie), cultural advisor/historian Stó:lō Research and Resource Management Centre, who holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Victoria and brings his innate storytelling gift and extensive experience in the negotiation of Stó:lō title and rights.

Deadline to apply is June 2, 2017

Get the details

For more information, contact Dr. Ken Brealey at ken.brealey@ufv.ca

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