Oral history and Indigenous knowledge

Oral traditions have allowed for the history, knowledge and culture of Indigenous Peoples to be passed on from generation to generation, and to survive despite government laws, actions and policies aimed at assimilation and acculturation, including the residential school system.

The heritage of Indigenous Peoples includes not only oral history and traditional knowledge, but also objects, sites, and literary or artistic works transmitted from one generation to another. Our lawyers participate hand in hand with clients to have this heritage recognized and protected as intellectual property. We assist our clients in controlling the representations of culture and knowledge that belong to them individually and collectively. We advise them on how to include requirements in agreements pertaining to the use of their intellectual property. Our lawyers have participated in the design and implementation of a program aimed at ensuring the continuation and survival of a traditional way of life.

We work closely with community elders, the guardians of oral history, to provide the Indigenous perspective in litigation involving Aboriginal rights or in the negotiations of agreements. We assist Indigenous elders and knowledge-holders in preparing for their testimonies in court and we strive to ensure that the history of the community, its customs and traditions are put on an equal footing as other historical facts and are recognized as reliable evidence. We also work extensively with many world-renowned experts such as anthropologists and ethnohistorians to corroborate and bring valuable insight into our clients’ lndigenous knowledge and oral histories.