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Background on RELAW Co-learning Program

The heart of the RELAW Program is the recognition that Indigenous law is law, and that Indigenous laws can and should be used on the ground today. Through RELAW, we engage with Indigenous laws through the teachings found in stories and the wisdom of elders and knowledge holders. In doing so, we aim to facilitate respectful dialogue and decision-making about today’s environmental and social challenges.

Through a year-long co-learning program, participants will learn about approaches to applying and enforcing Indigenous law, including a story-based approach. Participants will have the opportunity to engage with their nation’s own laws and processes, and to explore how these can shape community decision-making processes. RELAW recognizes that Indigenous nations are at different stages in the process of revitalizing their laws. Participants will benefit from the shared experiences and best practices of other nations who may be facing similar challenges, and have the opportunity to build a supportive network with one another.

Indigenous nations may nominate one or more co-learners (community members or employees) to participate in the year-long RELAW Co-learning Program to build the foundation for current or future work on revitalizing Indigenous law for their nation.

The RELAW 2020-21 Co-learning Program is expected to run from May 2020 – April 2021.

There are two ways to participate:

1. As a “community guide” for your nation (if it is participating in a RELAW project); or,

2. As an individual co-learner (if your nation is not participating in a RELAW project this year).

If you have questions or would like to apply, please contact Maxine Hayman Matilpi, RELAW Program Lead (mmatilpi@wcel.org or 1-800-330-WCEL ext. 226) or Helen Copeland, Program Manager (hcopeland@wcel.org).

To apply, please complete this expression of interest form. Space is limited and first consideration will be given to applications received before April 15, 2020.


Details for Individual Co-Learners

  • Participants will attend three in-person co-learning sessions (RELAW Retreats) of 3-4 days each, and will have the opportunity to participate in online learning sessions/check-ins.
  • Participants will receive guidance and coaching to organize a meeting or workshop in their community/on their territory during the year’s program.
  • Participants should expect to spend about 2 hours a week doing guided activities between learning sessions practicing what they learn. This might involve working with your nation’s stories to identify legal principles or planning for a meeting or workshop about Indigenous law in your community.
  • Participants who are employed full time in another capacity may participate as an individual learner, however, should confirm with their employer to ensure they’ll be able to participate in the learning sessions.
  • There is no cost to participants for the co-learning program. All retreat expenses (i.e., accommodation, food, materials) are covered. However, travel to in-person sessions is the responsibility of the participant/their nation. Stipends may be available to assist with travel costs if your nation is not able to cover this cost.

Other Co-learners

Not able to participate in the full year-long program? Is one of the RELAW retreats of particular interest to you? Space permitting, we welcome participation from Indigenous leadership and other community members at any of our co-learning sessions. Please let us know in advance so we can ensure your meals and accommodation are looked after.

Dates and Key Themes of RELAW Co-learning Program

May 19-22, 2020
Introduction to story-based method; working towards a trauma-informed approach

Sept. 29-Oct. 2, 2020
Facilitation skills & creating community dialogue

April 13-16, 2021
Implementation and enforcement of Indigenous law

*With online learning session/check-in between retreats

Click here to learn more about 2020-21 RELAW Retreats in the Co-learning Program.