Inuit Legal Clinic Stakeholder Summit

 Authored by Tasha Ellis, University of Manitoba, Faculty of Law articling student-at-law

At this landmark summit, Inuit Elders, community members, and stakeholders from Nunavut and Manitoba were invited to gather on Treaty 1 territory at the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Law, to learn, share information, and discuss the need for an Inuit-specific Legal Clinic in Manitoba.

The two-day event was held May 1st-2nd, 2024, and was organized and hosted by Victoria Perrie, a Métis-Cree lawyer practicing in both jurisdictions as Principal at Perrie Law, and Marc Kruse, Director of Indigenous Legal Learning and Services at Robson Hall, and funded by the Manitoba Law Foundation.

The summit included learning about Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (Inuit Traditional Knowledge or IQ) and culture, generously offered by Elders from Winnipeg and Nunavut. With this grounding in IQ, community members and stakeholders discussed the need for an Inuit Legal Clinic.

Need for Inuit-specific services

Our research found there were no Inuit court workers, no Inuit-specific Indigenous Justice Programs, no Inuit-specific Gladue report services, and no Inuit-specific legal services providers in Manitoba.

As of 2021, Inuit make up 0.5% of the population in Winnipeg. There are approximately 15,000 medical travel visits from residents in the Kivalliq region of Nunavut to Manitoba every year.[1] Many Inuit also must come to Winnipeg for training, advanced education, or to pursue other opportunities, sometimes staying for extended periods of time.

The need to travel to access healthcare and education, underscore the enduring legacy of colonialism, which continues to shape the socio-economic and cultural landscape of both the Kivalliq region and Winnipeg, impacting residents’ lives and opportunities.[2] The travel requirement also leads to cross-jurisdictional legal issues that require assistance that is culturally informed and able to help navigate legal systems in both Manitoba and Nunavut.

Lawyers currently practicing in Nunavut were able to share their observations about cross-jurisdictional legal issues they observed during the course of their work, both in panel discussions at the summit and through a survey done in 2023.

There were many important connections and conversations happening throughout the two-day summit, between community members, organizations, and legal service providers in both jurisdictions. There will be a final report published later this year, with recommendations for next steps.

Related: U of M News Article

[1] Manitoba Inuit Association, online: Annual Report 2018-19 at 8 <>.

[2] Victoria S.B. Perrie, Marc Kruse and Tara Tootoo-Fotheringham, Inuit Legal Clinic Primer.

The views expressed in these blogs do not necessarily reflect the views of the Faculty of Law at the University of Manitoba and should not be construed as legal advice or endorsement.

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