About the Summer Program

The ILC Summer Program has four objectives:

  • to prepare students for success in law school,
  • to provide an alternative means for Indigenous students to be accepted to law school, 
  • to increase the number of Indigenous professionals in the legal field, and 
  • to integrate Indigenous issues into legal education.

 

Over eight weeks, the ILC Summer Program offers an intensive six-credit Property Law course that covers three components: Personal Property, Real Property, and Aboriginal Property. The classes are taught by lawyers and law professors from across Canada, and taken together, they are representative of a first year Property Law course offered by Canadian law schools.   

Substantive coverage 

The topics covered in the Personal Property and Real Property components are as follows:

  • Nature of Property
  • Gifts
  • Finders
  • Bailment
  • Fixtures
  • Co-Ownership
  • Physical Dimensions of Property
  • Doctrine of Estates and Introduction to Wills
  • Tenure
  • Equitable Interests
  • Other Interests in Land (Profits, Easements)
  • Future Interests and Perpetuities
  • Comparative Registration Systems 

Aboriginal Property includes:

  • Aboriginal Concepts of Property
  • Aboriginal Title
  • Treaties/Treaty Land Entitlement
  • Métis Land Claims
  • Adverse Possession and Indian Lands
  • Cultural Property

Casebooks are compiled especially for the course by the professors teaching the course.  The textbook which will supplement the casebook/course is Bruce Ziff, Principles of Property Law.  All of the chapters in that text will be relevant, except the chapter on mortgages.

Our goal is to cover the essentials of Canadian Property Law and Aboriginal Property Law to provide the students with an adequate grounding to succeed in upper year Property-based courses.  We are not attempting to duplicate any law school's first year Property course but to provide an equivalent course which will meet our goals of providing basic Property Law concepts and skills instruction for our students.

Skill Building
In the context of Property Law, students learn the skills needed to succeed in law school, including reading comprehension, time management, argumentation, and legal writing. Skills are honed with the help of writing consultants and teaching assistants in the law classroom and through legal writing classes.

Following are the skills taught in the Summer Program:

A. Legal analysis, synthesis, evaluation and argument

All of the following are based on the ability to read critically whatever text (case report, problem, exam question, statute) is presented.

Discrimination and analysis:

  • Identify the relevant facts
  • Identify the legal issue(s)
  • Distinguish the facts from the law
  • Identify the legal rule(s)/principle(s)
  • Identify ambiguities

Synthesis:

  • Formulate the legal issue(s)
  • Formulate the legal rule(s)/principle(s)
  • Relate the cases to each other:
    • identify similarities, differences
    • use analogies
    • distinguish
    • reconcile
    • recognize trends, common themes, progression, implications;
  • Organize related material into an overview of the issue.

Argument and evaluation:

  • Point out the relationship between facts and law
  • Use facts and law to develop arguments for both sides of an issue
  • Propose alternatives to main arguments
  • Support judgment about which arguments are more likely to succeed

B. Writing Skills

In addition to the skills of analysis, synthesis, argument and evaluation, legal writing must demonstrate organization which shows the steps and connections in the argument, for example:

  • Organize the paper/answer around issues, not cases
  • Show analysis of body of law (rule)
  • Show how that relates to facts at hand (apply rule, analogy)
  • Outline arguments for both sides
  • State conclusion, supported with reasons.

Expectations
Students spend 15 hours in class per week, in addition to attending weekly tutorials, writing seminars, and skills sessions. The work requirements are heavy and students are expected to be prepared for classroom participation.

Cultural Context
The program integrates Customary Law into its courses, through which students learn about law from the perspectives of Elders. Elders also provide cultural support, guidance, and counselling outside of the classroom.

At the end of the program, the instructors assess two areas of the students' performance. The first area is in the writing assignments and exams, and the second area is in legal analysis skills, writing skills, and work habits. In order to pass the program, students must achieve at least 60 per cent in each of the components (Personal, Real, and Aboriginal Property). The final grade and the overall assessment and recommendation are sent to the students and to the law school they choose.

The ILC Summer Program recognizes its duty to accommodate individuals requiring accommodations based on disability, family status, and gender identity. Students are encouraged to contact Access and Equity Services (formerly Disability Services for Students) if they require accommodations or have questions about accessibility on campus.

All students who register with Access and Equity Services are strongly encouraged to inform the Coordinator, Programs and Community Outreach, Kathleen Makela, of accommodation needs.

Email Kathleen

  • As a truly national program, the ILC Summer Program accepts students from all across Canada.
  • The ILC Summer Program is held at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon.
  • The ILC Summer Program (formerly Program of Legal Studies for Native People) is in its 46th year of preparing Aboriginal students for law school. When it first began in 1973, there were only four Aboriginal lawyers and five Aboriginal law students in Canada.
  • Aboriginal people are severely underrepresented in the legal profession, and they continue to face social and economic challenges in pursuing legal education. We estimate that in the last 40 years, over 1000 Aboriginal people have graduated with a law degree, although not all graduates practice law (many work in related fields of government, NGOs, research, policy development, and education). If Aboriginal people were proportionately represented, there would be over 3300 Aboriginal people practicing law today. The shortage of Aboriginal professionals in law suggests that there is still a long way to go before Canada has an equitable and diverse legal profession. 
  • Since the program started in 1973, over 1300 students have completed the program, and over 1000 have enrolled in law school. More than 750 of our graduates have finished law school, and over 70 are still enrolled. That means that the ILC Summer Program has a great track record of over 80% of students achieving success in law school.
  • Across Canada, about 75% of all Aboriginal lawyers started their legal education with the ILC Summer Program.  
  • The program's alumni have become lawyers, judges, government officials and professors, and many pursue graduate studies in law.
  • It takes three years to earn a law degree. The ILC Summer Program is the first step in students' legal education.
  • The ILC Summer Program works with law schools across Canada to ensure that more Aboriginal students are accepted into law school; universities know that graduates of the program will be prepared for the challenges of law school and they can admit Aboriginal students who have alternative (not only score-based) qualifications and an ILC Summer Program background.
  • Most law schools recognize the ILC Summer Program's Property Law course as equivalent to a first year law course and grant a first-year credit for sucessful completion of the course.
  • Aboriginal traditions, such as talking circles, sweetgrass ceremonies, feasts, and round dances, are incorporated into the program.
  • Customary Law is a strong component of the ILC Summer Program; students have access to an Elder for culturally appropriate guidance, counselling, and support.
  • Teaching assistants organize extracurricular activities: sports games, movie nights, and potlucks.

Five PLSNP Students, Five PLSNP Stories. from NativeLawPLSNP on Vimeo.

Class of 2013:

Nicole Iaci, Kwantlen First Nation, British Columbia:

"Choosing to attend the Program of Legal Studies for Native People was without a doubt one of the best decisions I've ever made. As my first time travelling east of British Columbia, it was nerve racking to uproot my life for two months, but it was well worth it. Not only did the program get me prepared and even more eager to continue my journey toward law school, it left me with some great friends. The connections you build among peers and professors at the University of Saskatchewan are invaluable. It was truly an honour for me to participate in this program and to work alongside some of Canada's brightest and inspirational Indigenous students. I can't wait to see what our future has in store."

Kevin Henry, Métis, Oshawa, Ontario:

"During the stressful time of waiting for my acceptance letters, I first got one from Osgoode Hall. Feeling ecstatic, I told everyone that I got into Osgoode and would be attending in the fall. Little did I know that a week later I would get another letter from Osgoode that the offer was 'conditional' on the completion of the PLSNP. I remember feeling so let down that I had move to Saskatchewan for 8 weeks before I could attend Osgoode in the fall. It turns out to be one of the best decisions I could have made. The PLSNP gives you the tools to truly be successful in law school. You get a major head start above the other students. You have the time to learn how to properly read cases because the first time you do, it is really intimidating. You will have no idea what language you are reading.

It's not only the head start in law school that's important, but also the connections you form over the 8 weeks. I can personally say that the class of 2013 was a big family where we put our individualistic needs second to helping the group. Whenever a student needed help, they could reach out to the many resources, like the teaching group or one of the many nightly study sessions. 

The PLSNP was an amazing opportunity to meet many aspiring lawyers from across Canada, which builds the foundation of many strong friendships. Not only was I happy that I attended the PLSNP, but I would highly recommend all Native students to take it, whether they have a conditional or unconditional offer. It will have a drastic impact on your law career to ensure future success at law school."

Yvan Larocque, Métis, Ste. Anne, Manitoba:

"The PLSNP is an amazingly valuable program to attend. I truly believe that the skills and knowledge I gained through the program's curriculum have prepared me for the next 3 years of law school. The focus on students and the development of analytical skills is at the forefront of the program. The faculty, teaching assistants, and staff at the PLSNP were highly effective at ensuring all the students achieved their full potential in learning and applying the various skills required to succeed at the study of law and the challenges of law school examinations. Studying Property Law, while respecting and considering Aboriginal perspectives, has given me a new understanding of the importance of Aboriginal Law within the Canadian legal system and has opened my eyes to important contemporary legal issues facing Aboriginal people and Canadians alike. The PLSNP's approach to learning fostered an atmosphere of cooperation, communication, and friendship throughout the 8 weeks. I believe that the friendships and connections made through attending the PLSNP are just as valuable as the knowledge and skills gained in the classroom. I would highly recommend the PLSNP to anyone who is willing and committed to investing in themselves and their future."

Randy Robinson, Algonquin of the Timiskaming First Nation, Quebec:

"As I reflect further upon my academic journey, I realize that many of my experiences and interests are centered upon the importance of creating positive changes for Aboriginal people through the voice of the legal profession. The lawyers and professors at the PLSNP imparted an essential foundation for achieving success in law school. The Property Law curriculum helped to augment a critical habit of analysis that further strengthened my comprehension, understanding and appreciation of the law. Grounded in this new appreciation was a determination to acquire the skills essential for succeeding in law school. Although the program expectations were heavy the support was outstanding and met my needs as a student immersed in an entirely new way of learning.The PLSNP teaching team was an invaluable resource when seeking direction and clarity while completing assignments and preparing for exams.

The knowledgeable and experienced teaching assistants were always available for one-on-one consultation. Having this sense of personal support available reinforced an environment that builds on both individual and group learning strategies. Important was the Macro Juridics segment of the program. This aspect of the program allowed me to step back from the more detailed examination of Aboriginal, Real and Personal Property law and also approach legal study through a broad and comprehensive lens. In this component of the course, we studied time management, strategies for exam writing and garnered insight from the experience and expertise of the legal professionals at the program.

Integral to my experience with the PLSNP was contact and guidance from a traditional knowledge holder offering valuable insights into customary legal concepts. Having an outlet to explore law through this viewpoint interrelated core values between Indigenous and non-Indigenous ways of knowing which animate the possibility of reconciliation between historically divergent notions of justice.

Altogether, PLSNP offered a distinguished, innovative, and diverse environment that provided a space to explore further my passion, commitment and vision of working with Aboriginal communities. My involvement in the PLSNP reinforced my desire to succeed in the legal profession while acknowledging Indigenous Peoples and my ancestors that have experienced historical disadvantages in our shared Canadian history. I believe the program is central to the emerging development of reconciliatory social, cultural, political and economic spaces in Canada’s future, thereby acknowledging my ancestors and Canadian Indigenous Peoples’ historical disadvantage."

Lara Ulrich, Fort McMurray Métis Nation, Alberta:

"I cannot say enough positive things about the value of the Program of Legal Studies for Native People. Though it was possibly one of the most academically challenging eight weeks of my life, I know that the experience has not only given me skills to succeed in law school, but has changed me as a person for the better. The people that you meet in this program will not only become your future colleagues in the field of law, but also lifelong friends. There is no competition or comparing - the professors and TAs truly want each and every student to succeed. Academic and cultural support is there each and every step of the way, challenging you to think about society, law, and yourself as a person in a different way. 

Even though at times throughout the program, you will be sleep deprived and stressed, realizing a little too late the trouble with procrastination, I can honestly say that the entire experience is worth it. I have never been more excited and optimistic for my future. Because of this program, I know that I can succeed in law school. I almost did not apply to attend the program, and I am thankful that for once, I didn't listen to my doubts. This program truly showcases the best that Aboriginal law students have to offer, and the massive potential for the future of Aboriginal peoples in the study of law."

Class of 2008:

Brittany Fish, Wallaceburg, ON:

"In all honesty, I couldn’t imagine starting law school without having participated in the PLSNP. The faculty, teaching assistants and support staff assured us on our first day that they would prepare us for law school and that is exactly what they achieved. Through memorandum assignments and examinations we were tested on property law. We were taught how to read and analyze case law, take proper notes and techniques from teaching assistants to prepare for exams. Most importantly, the PLSNP was a compact course-load and it taught students the importance of prioritizing your schedule and time management. After completing the Program, the transition into law school was less intimidating and I felt comfortable entering law school having been prepared by an excellent teaching staff at the PLSNP." 

Class of 1974:

Justice Harry LaForme, Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation:

"I wouldn’t be anywhere without [the PLSNP]. It put a charge in me. It lit a candle that never was put out. ...It shaped our thinking, our approaches. I can’t imagine arriving here (our state of the law) without that place. When I started law school, there was no Aboriginal law. Now there isn’t a law school that doesn’t teach Aboriginal law. That evolution started with that Program." 

Canadian Chapter of the International Association of Women Judges

The ILC Summer Program is grateful for the Canadian Chapter of the International Association of Women Judges' generous five-year commitment to support the participation of Aboriginal women in the program. 

Law Foundation of Ontario

Thanks to the Law Foundation of Ontario's generous Access to Justice Fund, the ILC Summer Program has been able to improve the curriculum and skills support provided to the students. Read about the impact of the award.

Q: I have applied to law school but haven’t received an offer of admission yet. Should I go ahead and apply to the ILC Summer Program?

A: Yes.

Q: What does “evidence of acceptance by an Indigenous community” mean in the application form?

A: Students wanting to attend the ILC Summer Program must self-declare as: Status Indian, non-Status Indian, Métis, or Inuit. Students are asked to submit documentation in support of this declaration. We are not verifying who is Indigenous or not but rather verifying the documentation provided by the student. Evidence of acceptance by an Indigenous community includes:

  • Photocopied identification cards and birth certificates, especially Indian status cards, Metis citizenship cards, Inuit beneficiary identification or enrolment cards
  • Community reference letters from chiefs, Elders and community organizations (these should be sent directly from the reference to the ILC).

Q: I received a conditional acceptance to law school, do I still need to apply to the ILC Summer Program?

A: Yes.

Q: How do I submit my documents for my application?

A: Anything pertaining to your application can be sent to us through email at nlcsp@usask.ca.

Q: Can I work part-time while attending the ILC Summer Program?

A: It is strongly recommended that students do not work outside of the Program as it is a full year course packed into eight weeks.

Q: What is the purpose of the Personal Statement in the application process?

A: The helps us to understand your connection to Indigenous culture and/or how colonization has impacted on you as an Indigenous person. 

Q: I am from out of town, where should I live during the ILC Summer Program?

A: Students are responsible for their own travel and accommodation. You can live on campus or off. You can look into different housing offered at the University of Saskatchewan by visiting the residence website at: https://livewithus.usask.ca.

Q: Is there a deadline to apply to the ILC Summer Program?

A: No, but the sooner you apply the better as seats are limited.

Q: What if I have other questions regarding the ILC Summer Program?

A: For further information, contact the Indigenous Law Centre by telephone 306-966-6189 or email nlcsp@usask.ca.

 

Admission

You must meet two requirements to be admitted into the ILC Summer Program:

1. You must be Indigenous, and

2. You must have been accepted into a Canadian law school (conditionally or unconditionally) and be starting your first year in the coming fall.

Get in touch with the ILC Summer Program early in the academic year as you begin to apply to law schools. We are here to talk about your options and to help with the application process for both law schools and the ILC Summer Program.

Before you are accepted to the ILC Summer Program, you must be accepted conditionally or unconditionally into a Canadian law school.

Law schools usually require applicants to have completed at least two full years of university education or to have a full undergraduate degree. In some exceptional cases, law schools accept mature students with substantial work experience. Most law schools also require law applicants to write the LSAT (test scores range from 120-180). Details about the LSAT and other law school information can be found at www.LSAC.org.

Apply to as many law schools as you can as early as possible before the deadlines. Generally, deadlines range between November and February, and law schools accept their students as late as April or May. 

Students may be admitted into law school based only on their LSAT score and grade point average, or they may be admitted through a discretionary admissions category, in which law schools consider the student’s work experience, age, and background in addition to LSAT scores. Indigenous students may be accepted conditionally—on the condition that they successfully complete the ILC Summer Program. If you are accepted conditionally, your marks and performance in the ILC Summer Program will determine your admission into law school.

Because the ILC Summer Program starts in May, the sooner you apply to law school, the sooner you’ll hear back about your admission, and the sooner you can arrange for a summer in the program. 

Alberta

University of Alberta Faculty of Law

University of Calgary Faculty of Law at Murray Fraser Hall

British Columbia

Thompson Rivers University Faculty of Law

University of British Columbia Faculty of Law at Allard Hall

University of Victoria Faculty of Law

Manitoba

University of Manitoba Robson Hall, Faculty of Law

New Brunswick

University of Moncton (Université de Moncton) Droit (French-language Common Law)

University of New Brunswick Faculty of Law

Nova Scotia

Dalhousie University Schulich School of Law

Ontario

Lakehead University Faculty of Law

Queen's University Faculty of Law

University of Ottawa Faculty of Law (Common Law)

University of Toronto Faculty of Law

University of Western Ontario Law

University of Windsor Law

York University Osgoode Hall Law School

Quebec

McGill University Faculty of Law

Saskatchewan

University of Saskatchewan College of Law

Once you have applied to a Canadian law school, candidates interested in the ILC Summer Program are encouraged to begin the application process as soon as possible. If the Program has to limit enrollment, priority will be given to students who submit applications by March 1.

This summer the ILC Summer Program runs from May 6, 2020 to June 29, 2020.  

The online application is under construction. Check back soon to register!

Application checklist

The online application is not yet ready. In the meantime, you can start putting together the following documentation which will either need to be uploaded during registration or emailed to nlcsp@usask.ca. 

  • Current resumé
  • Personal statement describing the degree to which you identify with and are connected to an Indigenous community and qualifications for the Program
  • Copy of your LSAT score
  • Evidence of acceptance by an Indigenous community 
  • University transcripts (unofficial copies will suffice)
  • One academic letter of reference 
  • One community letter of reference which fully describes your connection(s) to the Indigenous community 
  • If required, register with Access and Equity Services.

As an alternative to uploading your attachments below, you can email your documents as attachments to nlcsp@usask.ca, or you can mail them as a package to:

Coordinator, Programs and Community Outreach
Indigenous Law Centre
University of Saskatchewan
160 Law Building, 15 Campus Drive
Saskatoon, SK   S7N 5A6 

Tuition

The ILC Summer Program fee is $2,850, reviewed yearly. This cost includes required texts, but not recommended texts.

Financial support

Students can apply for funding from several sources:

  • First Nations students attending the ILC Summer Program who are status should apply for funding from their bands or local educational authorities.
  • Non-status and Métis students should apply for scholarships from Indspire.
  • Those who do not meet Indspire or band funding criteria should look into student loans or other scholarships and bursaries for which they might be eligible.
  • Government of Canada Aboriginal Bursaries program
  • Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada's Post-Secondary Student Support Program

Occasionally, the program has limited financial assistance available for a very small number of students. If you cannot secure funding from any other source, contact the ILC Summer Program for more information about this limited funding.

Information for law schools

The ILC Summer Program runs for eight weeks from first week of May to the end of June. Because it is a national program, many students travel to Saskatoon from all over Canada, and many need to arrange for funding and accommodations, which is a lengthy process. Some students also leave families and jobs to study the program for the summer. The investment on the part of the students is demanding, and for this reason, we ask law schools to consider these associated challenges when timelines for admission are set. Please let the program know about admission decisions before May 1.

We also ask that law schools let us know as soon as possible which Indigenous students have applied and been accepted to their law school. We strongly suggest that law schools encourage all Indigenous students to participate in the program, whether they are conditionally or unconditionally admitted.

Living in Saskatoon

The ILC Summer Program is held at the Indigenous Law Centre on the beautiful University of Saskatchewan campus in Saskatoon, which is on Treaty Six territory. The University of Saskatchewan was established in 1907, built on the east side of the South Saskatchewan River, just over the bridge from downtown. Saskatoon is a city at the heart of the prairies, and it is home to many Aboriginal nations, including Cree, Dene, Nakawe, Dakota, Lakota, Nakota, and Métis. 

The City

Saskatoon is a gem of a city. It has a beautiful landscape, with a vast river running through it and riverside trails that are great for walks, runs, and bike rides—or simply for getting out of the hustle and bustle and into the calm shade for some down time. During the summer, the weir on the river hosts a magnificent pod of pelicans that fish in the eddy. 

City life is vibrant in the youthful area of Broadway, and downtown on the other side of the river features a condensed core of shops, cafes, and restaurants.

The summer weather is often cheerful—the city is nicknamed Sunny Saskatoon for having the most hours of sunshine of any major city in Canada—but the thunderstorms are magnificent and beautiful in their own right.

When you’re not reading and studying, get to know Saskatoon during your eight-week stay:

Tourism Saskatoon: http://www.tourismsaskatoon.com/
City of Saskatoon: http://www.saskatoon.ca/
Downtown Business Improvement District: http://www.downtownsaskatoon.com/
Broadway Business Improvement District: http://www.onbroadway.ca/  
The Star Phoenix: http://www.thestarphoenix.com/

Aboriginal Map

The University of Saskatchewan's Office of Indigenous Initiatives and the Spatial Initiative have created the aMAP (Aboriginal Map), which features the locations of Aboriginal programs, Aboriginal student services, Aboriginal community initiatives on campus, in Saskatoon, and in Saskatchewan. The aMAP also maps out Treaty territories, reserve boundaries, band offices, and Métis communities. The map can be useful to Saskatoon and Saskatchewan residents who want to find nearby or relevant initiatives. Explore the aMAP and familiarize yourself with the campus, the city, and the province! 

Connect

If you have questions about moving to Saskatoon, you can request to be put in touch with ILC Summer Program alumni who can share their experiences and advice about living in Saskatoon and taking the program. Contact plsnp@usask.ca to be connected with an alum.

Students are responsible for their own housing. Several options are:

Quick facts

  • As a truly national program, the ILC Summer Program accepts students from all across Canada.
  • The ILC Summer Program is held at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon.
  • The ILC Summer Program (formerly Program of Legal Studies for Native People) is holding its 48th year of preparing Indigenous students for law school. When it first began in 1973, there were only four Indigenous lawyers and five Indigenous law students in Canada.
  • Indigenous people are severely underrepresented in the legal profession, and they continue to face social and economic challenges in pursuing legal education. We estimate that in the last 40 years, over 1000 Indigenous people have graduated with a law degree, although not all graduates practice law (many work in related fields of government, NGOs, research, policy development, and education). If Aboriginal people were proportionately represented, there would be over 3300 Aboriginal people practicing law today. The shortage of Indigenous professionals in law suggests that there is still a long way to go before Canada has an equitable and diverse legal profession. 
  • Since the program started in 1973, over 1300 students have completed the program, and over 1000 have enrolled in law school. More than 750 of our graduates have finished law school, and over 70 are still enrolled. That means that the ILC Summer Program has a great track record of over 80% of students achieving success in law school.
  • Across Canada, about 75% of all Indigenous lawyers started their legal education with the ILC Summer Program.  
  • The program's alumni have become lawyers, judges, government officials and professors, and many pursue graduate studies in law.
  • It takes three years to earn a law degree. The ILC Summer Program is the first step in students' legal education.
  • The ILC Summer Program works with law schools across Canada to ensure that more Indigenous students are accepted into law school; universities know that graduates of the program will be prepared for the challenges of law school and they can admit Aboriginal students who have alternative (not only score-based) qualifications and an ILC Summer Program background.
  • Most law schools recognize the ILC Summer Program's Property Law course as equivalent to their first year law course and grant a first-year credit for the successful completion of the course.
  • Indigenous traditions, such as talking circles, sweetgrass ceremonies, feasts, and round dances, are incorporated regularly into the program.
  • Customary Law has long been a strong component of the ILC Summer Program; students have access to an Elder for learning indigenous knowledge as well as receiving culturally appropriate guidance, counselling, and support.
  • Teaching assistants organize extracurricular activities: sports games, movie nights, and potlucks and share their own law school study skills and habits with students.