Beginning in October, practicing lawyers in Nova Scotia can begin taking the Indigenous Intercultural Awareness and Competency Training called The Path.
The Path was approved by Council at the November 2022 meeting as mandatory training for all practicing lawyers in Nova Scotia. All practicing members must complete this training by June 2025.
This is part of the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society’s commitment to improving the cultural competence of the legal profession and responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action. In particular, Call to Action Number 27 calls upon Canadian law societies to ensure all lawyers have received appropriate cultural competency training:
“…which includes the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal – Crown relations. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.”
For information about how to register, please email John MacGillis at [email protected].
The course consists of six modules and is expected to take a total of six hours to complete. The modules are:
Module 1 – Name Calling:
- Lesson 1 – Indians, Inuit, Metis
- Lesson 2 – Stereotypes and Misconceptions
Module 2- Land and Stories
- Lesson 1 – Land Acknowledgements
- Lesson 2 – Origin Stories
- Lesson 3 – Inuit Across the North
Module 3 – Canada’s Colonial History
- Lesson 1- From the Arrival of Strangers to a Royal Proclamation
- Lesson2 – Denial of Rights from after the Royal Proclamation to the Dominion of Canada
- Lesson 3 – Colonization Since Confederation
Module 4 – Contemporary Realities
- We Reap what We Sow
- The City is Home
- Who We are Today
Module 5 – Relationship Building
- Lesson 1 – Worldviews and Cultural Values
- Lesson 2 – Increasing your IQ
Module 6 – Towards Truth and Reconciliation
- Lesson 1 – Rights and Resurgence
- Lesson 2 – The Path Forward
General Information About the Course
Why did the Society specifically choose The Path program for Indigenous Cultural Competency Education?
Council determined that The Path is an excellent introduction to Indigenous Peoples in Canada and is a good starting point for our path toward reconciliation. The Path is well-regarded across Canada and has the endorsement of the Canadian Bar Association (CBA).
How is The Path delivered and how long will it take to complete?
The Path is a six-hour series of online modules with videos and quizzes. You need a computer or mobile device with speakers or headphones. Closed captioning is also available.
Lawyers can complete the course in segments, allowing for flexibility of learning pace, but must complete the program within the 18-month time frame allotted. You can pause anytime and resume later by logging into your account.
What are the modules and topics and how long will each take to complete?
There are six modules in The Path 2023 and each module has lessons included and the course takes approximately six hours to complete.
What if I am interrupted and do not complete an entire module? Will it track where I left off?
Page content — Yes. On returning to the module, you will be asked whether “you want to start at the last page you saw?”
Video — No. You cannot bookmark a specific spot in the video. However, you can restart a video and fast forward to the spot where you left off.
To the right of each lesson is a box with dotted lines. When a lesson is completed successfully, a checkmark displays in the box.
Note: For security purposes, your session will timeout if inactive on the website after three hours. You will need to log back in to resume from the last page you saw.
Is The Path accessible to those using access technology?
NVision has reviewed the course for accessibility with those using assistive devices. Much of the content is via video with closed captioning, for which there is also a downloadable narration file.
The written content and quiz questions are accessible with text to voice and screen readers. There are also downloadable resources such as a glossary of terms. These resources are usually PDF files but are also available as Microsoft Word files, upon request. While all core content is covered in the audio narration of the videos, there are also written scripts (one master, and separate files for each video) that describe any breaks in narration or text in the video that is not narrated.
How will my completion of The Path be tracked?
Upon completion of The Path, you are prompted to input your Member ID, your first and last name, and your email address. This is followed by some short questions about the course.
Upon completion of the questions, a certificate of completion is issued through the NVision website. Keep the certificate to verify course completion. You should not have to produce this certificate unless requested by the Society.
How do I receive an exemption?
Regardless of exemption eligibility, all Nova Scotia lawyers are encouraged to complete The Path. Before certifying you are eligible for an exemption, check with your law firm or organization as we were advised that some firms/organizations are not permitting exemptions.
Individual lawyers are relied on to assess their prior education and experiences in Indigenous cultural competency. If you believe you qualify for an exemption, please email [email protected].
If the Society determines you are required to take The Path, you must complete the education in the original 18-month timeframe. For this reason, if you intend to certify that you are exempt, you are encouraged to do so as soon as possible.
How do I request an extension?
Lawyers may request an extension to the 18-month completion requirement of The Path. Extensions may only be requested in the event of maternity/parental leave or medical leave/illness.
In taking The Path, I have found some of the content to be upsetting, where can I access support or additional resources?
Throughout The Path, there are topics covered that occurred in Canada that are disturbing to some viewers. If you need to talk to someone, or need support, we encourage you to reach out to the Nova Scotia Lawyer’s Assistance Program (NSLAP).
How do I raise questions or concerns about The Path course content?
The majority of the course is the work of NVision and the Society has purchased the right to provide this material to Nova Scotia lawyers.
Feedback about The Path course content can be provided in the completion questions at the end of course.
Technical questions about navigating The Path website should be directed to [email protected].
What do I do if I forget my password to The Path?
Follow the password recovery steps available within The Path website.
As an active lawyer, how long do I have to complete The Path?
Practising lawyers have 18 months to complete The Path from October 2023.
The 18-month timeline applies to all lawyers who become practising or change to practicing status following the launch of The Path, effective from the date they begin practising. For instance, Articled Clerks called to the Bar following the launch of The Path will have 18 months after the effective date of their practising lawyer status to complete the program.
Are lawyers expected to pay for this education?
There is no additional cost to practising lawyers to take The Path through the Society.
As a suspended lawyer, can I complete The Path, and will the Society cover the cost?
Suspended lawyers can take The Path, but the costs are not covered by the Society. Those who complete the program while suspended will meet the requirements of the education upon reinstating to active status.
As a lawyer planning to transfer to Nova Scotia, when can I complete The Path?
You will be required to take The Path within 18 months of becoming a member of the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society. While we appreciate some are eager to complete this education, you are not eligible to take the course until you are a member of the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society. We are unable to track completion of transferring lawyers before you have a Member ID.
I have already taken Indigenous Cultural Competency Education through another provider. Do I still have to take The Path delivered by the Society?
Some exemptions are available to lawyers who choose to certify they have equivalent Indigenous Cultural Competency Education.
I completed the Practice Readiness Education Program (PREP), do I qualify for an exemption?
All Nova Scotia lawyers are encouraged to take The Path. Lawyers who have completed PREP in Nova Scotia will be automatically granted an exemption. Lawyer’s who have completed PREP in another jurisdiction must request an exemption.
What are the exemptions if I choose to certify I have equivalent Indigenous Cultural Competency Education?
Nova Scotia lawyers who have completed The Path through the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) or another organization are considered to meet the education requirements and may choose to certify that they are exempt from taking The Path through the Society.
We also understand that lawyers could receive Indigenous education in many other ways, and this adds complexity to making exemptions. We know others have experiences with Aboriginal law and Indigenous law or legal traditions. This experience may also be gained through personal cultural experiences and Indigenous identity or ancestry.
While the Society will not pre-emptively evaluate or accredit individual programs or experiences, lawyers may choose to certify that they are exempt based on having other previous education or knowledge that sufficiently addresses the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action #27. Lawyers who certify they are exempt must ensure that their previous education or knowledge included training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights and anti-racism. As well, it should be sufficient to address Truth and Reconciliation Call to Action #27 which includes:
- History and legacy of residential schools
- United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
- Treaties and Aboriginal rights
- Indigenous law (Indigenous legal traditions)
- Aboriginal-Crown relations
Lawyers may want to review the modules and topics addressed in The Path, outlined at question 5, when self-assessing whether they have previous education or knowledge that sufficiently addresses the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action #27.
I have already taken The Path through another organization. Will I be reimbursed for this expense?
Nova Scotia lawyers who have completed The Path (National) through other organizations or learning institutions will not be reimbursed for the cost of the program.
Where can I access information about further Indigenous resources or education?
The Society has additional resources for education and self-reflection available on our website.
Why has the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society mandated Indigenous Cultural Competency education for all practicing Nova Scotia Lawyers?
The decision to mandate education is integral to our commitment and obligation to respond to the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Calls to Action, in particular, #27 which calls upon Canadian law societies to ensure all lawyer receive Indigenous cultural awareness training.
While in many contexts we do believe lawyers should exercise their own judgement when choosing education for their own professional development, there are some competencies where it is appropriate that the Society mandate education. Indigenous cultural competency is one of those unique areas where mandatory education is important.
I do not have Indigenous clients, why is this important to me?
Whether a lawyer’s practice involves Indigenous clients or not, lawyers have an ongoing obligation to educate themselves on the issues that are relevant to the communities where they live and practice law.
We know Indigenous people are over-represented in the justice system. The Path will allow Nova Scotia lawyers to gain a basic understanding of Indigenous history and issues in Canada.
Is all future continuing professional development going to be mandated in the same way?
Work is currently underway to rebuild a CPD model that aspires to empower and equip lawyers to provide the best legal services they can to Nova Scotians. Our goal with rebuilding the CPD program is to establish a program that considers experience, existing education programs and stage of career. We also know that many firms and organizations have developed CPD programming for lawyers.
While in many contexts we believe lawyers should exercise their own judgement when choosing education for their own professional development, there are some competencies where it is appropriate that the Society mandate education.