Aboriginal Law Students' Association (ALSA)

Club objectives

  1. Provide a social and support network for Aboriginal Students at the Faculty of Law;
  2. Create professional networks and provide opportunities for Aboriginal students and other students interested in practicing in the area of Aboriginal Law;
  3. Advocate for the inclusion of Indigenous laws in the curriculum, programming and in resources at the Bora Laskin Library at the Faculty of Law; and
  4. Raise awareness on Aboriginal legal issues among students at the Faculty of Law and in the broader legal community.

Activities and Opportunities

Yearly activities and opportunities include:

  • Informal social and cultural outings
  • Organizing a Fall Feast/ potluck at the school
  • Hearing from invited speakers and practitioners in the field of Aboriginal law
  • Attending and hosting conferences relating to Aboriginal peoples and the law
  • Providing input to Faculty on courses and programming

ALSA also works closely with the Indigenous Law Journal at the Faculty of Law and is a point of contact for the larger Aboriginal community and services provided in Toronto. 

Contact Information

For more information about the ALSA, or about student life and activities as an Aboriginal law student in the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto, please contact one of ALSA Co-President Deanna Roffey at deanna.roffey@mail.utoronto.ca and Acting ALSA Co-President Douglas Varrette at d.varrette@mail.utoronto.ca.

For information about applying to the Faculty of Law as an Aboriginal student, please contact Amanda Carling, Aboriginal Law Program Coordinator at amanda.caring@utoronto.ca

Student Volunteer Opportunity with Aboriginal Legal Services

Aboriginal Legal Services (formerly Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto or ALST) is always on the lookout for volunteers for their Community Council Program, which is a unique criminal diversion program for people of Indigenous descent in Toronto. Please see below for a program description. This could be a great volunteer opportunity for those interested in restorative justice and giving back to the community.

Community Council Program

The Community Council Program is a criminal diversion program for Aboriginal adults and youth who live in Toronto and are interacting with the criminal justice system. The program diverts accused Aboriginal community members out of the criminal justice system and provides an opportunity for them to be heard before members of Toronto’s Aboriginal community. 

The focus of the Community Council is a collaborative, restorative, and reintegrative process through which Community Council Members who sit at Council hearings work with a subject community member at developing a plan by consensus. This process can assist the community member who is subject to the justice system to take responsibility for his/her actions, address the root causes of the problem, and reintegrate him/her into the community in a positive way.

The concept of the Community Council is not new¾it is one way justice has been delivered in Aboriginal communities in Central and Eastern Canada for centuries before the arrival of Europeans to North America and is also the way that disputes continue to be informally resolved in many reserve communities across the country. This is the first project in Canada to apply these principles in an urban setting.

Volunteering to be a Community Council Member

Council Members represent a diverse cross-section of people of Indigenous heritage from across Canada. As a Council Member, your duties would include attending mandatory training and to sitting at hearings, usually once a month.

For information on the process for applying to be a Community Council member, please click here. For the application form itself, please click here. ALST accepts applications on a rolling basis.

Additional questions can be answered by Colette McCombs, Community Council Program Manager at colette@aboriginallegal.ca.Applications are also submitted to Colette.

Additional Background Reading

The two documents below provide some background on the development of the Community Council:

Outline of the Community Council Program

Elders and Traditional Teachers Gathering - Birch Island - August 1991