ILSG is expected to receive full funding and be functioning as an RSG by Sept. 2021. Image: ILSG/Provided.
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Switch to RSG was approved by undergraduate students at UOSU Fall General Assembly

On Nov. 12, a clear majority of those in attendance for the University of Ottawa Students’ Union (UOSU) Fall General Assembly (FGA) voted to give the Indigenous Law Student’s Association (ILSA) the right to become a recognized student government (RSG). 

Motion 8.5 of the FGA moved to create the new student government and asked the UOSU to support the establishment of the ILSA as an RSG.

The group will now be known as the Indigenous Law Students Government (ILSG).

The designation means it is the University of Ottawa’s first Indigenous RSG resulting in a change in the organization’s rules and means of funding. 

The motion, brought forward by Jason Tremblay, stated, “it is important for the good governance of the University of Ottawa that there be committees, groups and associations to represent the interests of students and independent community members.”

Those in attendance at the FGA voted for the motion on the grounds that “the UOSU [should] provide adequate funding for Indigenous events, gatherings and programming, as well as advocate for the provision of office space for the ILSG, in full recognition of the Indigenous presence on campus and in the faculty of law.”

The ILSA had long been an association under the Common Law Student Society but its members believed it was time to become a separate self-governing body. 

“Our reason for [seeking self-governance] was because Canada has three legal orders, common law, civil law, and Indigenous law,” explained Chanel Carlson, a member of the RSG. 

“So it only made sense that we existed as our own separate entity rather than under the common law body.”

Carlson shared that the next step for the ILSG is to establish a constitution that reflects their traditional Indigenous values. 

“We’re going to do that in a way that we bring in Indigenous legal laws and orders that have been in existence since precontact. Right now, our constitution is a Western constitution. And we have to follow the rules.” 

“For example, I don’t believe that our government will be a hierarchical government,” continued Carlson. “That’s something that we’re all going to do together. And equally and with consultation from the Algonquin peoples and the law school.”

Like any other RSG at the university, the ILSG will have to work with the UOSU on its funding structure and framework of activities. 

Tim Gulliver, the UOSU’s advocacy commissioner, spoke on the financial aspects of the designation.

“When it comes to finances, we [the UOSU] have committed at the FGA, to work with [the ILSG] to develop the framework to ensure they’re receiving more funding, these conversations have not yet begun but will shortly.”

Gulliver then spoke about the newly minted RSG, saying that “the UOSU will not be playing any role in the internal affairs, they will be given the lead (same as other RSG’s) to determine how they want to self-govern.”

The switch has been celebrated by the ILSG as well as the Indigenous student community and the UOSU. 

The Instagram page for the ILSG posted an update announcing their change from student association to RSG on Nov. 12. 

Alongside the photo announcement, they wrote; “WE DID IT!!!!! 6 hours on zoom and worth every minute. Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who dedicated their night to ensuring our success. We could not have done it without you.”

The ILSG is expected to receive full funding and be functioning as an RSG by Sept. 2021.