Melanie Mark
(Minister of Advanced Education Melanie Mark/UVic Twitter)

The University of Victoria will be the future home of the National Centre for Indigenous Laws, following a joint announcement for funding from the federal and provincial governments.

At a press conference Thursday morning, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training Melanie Mark committed $13 million towards the construction of the Centre, which will expand on the existing Anne and Murray Fraser (Law) Building at UVic.

The Federal Government will be providing $9.1 million and the Law Foundation of BC is providing $5 million, for a total project cost of $27.1 million.

The new building will house the world’s first joint degree in Indigenous legal orders and Canadian common law (JD/JID), which launched at UVic in 2018, and the Indigenous Law Research Unit.

“The new National Centre for Indigenous Laws will be a place where the rights of Indigenous peoples in Canada will be recognized and upheld,” said Mark.

“This is a historic step toward reconciliation and will be a positive legacy for social, economic and environmental justice.”

The addition to the Fraser Building will provide approximately 2,440 square metres (26,264 sq. ft.) of space.

The province says that the project will incorporate Coast Salish designs, signage, public art and materials such as B.C. wood, cedar weaving and natural light.

Federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett also spoke at the press conference Thursday morning and said that the project responds to item 50 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 calls to action.

The Commission first released its calls to action in 2015. A December 2019 report from the Yellowhead Institute said that the government had completed only nine of 94 calls to action at the time.

“We believe that the government is 80 per cent of the way to completion or on the way,” Bennett said in response to a question about the pace of change on the calls to action.

Mark added that there is still work to be done but reaffirmed the province’s commitment to action.

“There’s a lot of work for all of us to do. Reconciliation isn’t on the shoulders of individuals.”