In the early ’70s, Roger Carter, dean of the College of Law, noticed a startling lack of Indigenous students entering the college. At the time, there were only four lawyers and five students of native ancestry in Canada.
Inspired by a trip to the New Mexico Law School, Carter studied what he believed to be a model that would work at the U of S. In June of 1973, Carter established the Program of Legal Studies for Native People, an eight-week course designed to prepare Indigenous students to pursue an education in law. The Federal Government provided financial support to both status and non-status students who were eligible for not only the course, but also any legal studies that followed.
Two years later, in 1975, the program was transferred to the newly created Native Law Centre. In 2017, the program was renamed the Native Law Centre (NLC) Summer Program, but the objectives remain the same: prepare students for success in law school; provide an alternative means for Aboriginal students to be accepted to law school; increase the number of Indigenous professionals in the legal field; and integrate Indigenous issues into legal education.
To date, more than 1,300 students have completed the program, more than 1,000 have enrolled in law school and more than 820 have finished law school or are still enrolled. Around 75 per cent of all Indigenous lawyers in Canada started their legal education with the NLC Summer Program.
With files from University Archives and Special Collections.