University of Windsor introducing new scholarship for Indigenous law students

Scholarship in honour of the late Fred Bartley, Toronto Crown known for establishing Gladue courts

University of Windsor introducing new scholarship for Indigenous law students
Fred Bartley, Windsor alum and Toronto Crown Attorney

The University of Windsor Faculty of Law has announced a new scholarship for Indigenous law students, starting this fall, in memory of alumnus Fred Bartley, the Crown Attorney who was instrumental in establishing Gladue courts in Toronto.

Bartley died last September, of complications from liver disease. He was a few days short of his 53rd birthday. A member of the Serpent River First Nation, he spent 20 years at the Toronto Crown Attorney’s office after graduating from Windsor in 1996.

Former Windsor Law Dean Christopher Waters says the school has raised $25,000 so far and the scholarship will amount to $1,000 per student. But as the contributions continue to roll in, he says they hope to offer more in the future. A large gift came from the Ontario Crown Attorneys Association, which hopes to encourage Indigenous law students to consider careers as Crowns, says Waters.

For Windsor, recruiting Indigenous students is a “high priority” for the school, he says.

“I think the [Truth and Reconciliation Commission] was a wakeup call to the legal profession about how it needed to do better in terms of responding to the legal issues impacting Indigenous people,” says Waters. “And certainly, law schools have tried to respond to the TRC’s calls to action. And Windsor law, I believe, has made important steps in that regard.”

Windsor has an Indigenous Legal Orders Institute, regularly hosts Anishinaabe law camps, has an elder-in-residence program in partnership with Walpole Island First Nation and faculty council recently agreed to create a specialization in Indigenous legal orders for students, he says.

“We have really strong Indigenous professors right now, including our incoming Acting Dean, [Beverly] Jacobs. And Indigenous legal orders is a mandatory first-year course for us. It looks at Indigenous legal orders from the ground up… We look forward to Fred's legacy being honoured in terms of educating the next generation of Indigenous and non-Indigenous lawyers in Canada.”

The news of the scholarship comes as Indigenous law expert Dr. Beverly Jacobs has assumed the role of acting law dean, on Monday. Jacobs is Windsor’s first Indigenous law dean, says Waters.

Waters’ deanship ended Friday. Beginning Monday, Jacobs will take up the role of acting dean, until a new one is appointed in July. The associate dean has been teaching at the school since 2017. Her research has focused on Indigenous legal orders, Indigenous wholistic health, Indigenous research methodologies and decolonization of Eurocentric law. She was born and raised on the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory and is a member of the Mohawk Nation of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy, Bear Clan. Jacobs is a Member of the Order of Canada as well as a former president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada.

Bartley attended Windsor’s law school around the same time as Bartley.

“He was always a happy-go-lucky guy at law school, a natural leader,” says Jacobs. “No one was surprised to see him thrive in his career or to see him strive for a better justice system for Indigenous peoples.”

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