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Guelph-Humber Pre-Law Society hosts mooting event focused on Indigenous law

The fourth annual GH Cup hosted by Guelph-Humber’s Pre-Law Society recently took place with a specific focus.

The mooting competition which involved six schools from across the country competing, focused on Indigenous law this year.

Members of the Pre-Law Society worked on the event since the beginning of the school year in addition to competing in competitions at other schools across the province. 

The two-day event included a keynote address from Caitlyn Kasper, a senior lawyer with Aboriginal Legal Services whose legal expertise is in appellate court law reform and test case litigation in criminal, child welfare and civil rights.

Her work centres on police violence, investigation of sudden death, inquest, and victim advocacy.

For Justice Studies student Serena Allidina, President of the Pre-Law Society, having Ms. Kasper speak was personal. Allidina previously had a summer job with the Toronto Bail Program which supports marginalized clients many of whom were young Indigenous men. Ms. Kasper helped support one of Allidina’s clients to have their charges withdrawn.

Her words to the competitors inspired Allidina.

“Her fearlessness, her drive, her passion, and her compassion is something that I'd like to see in myself one day as a litigator, and I knew that we had to have her speak- she truly inspired everyone in the room.”

But more than arranging for a speaker- the GH Cup meant organizing a panel of judges, getting the word out to let other mooting teams know about the competition and ensure that there were no conflicts between judges and the teams competing- the event was an exercise in planning and dealing with unexpected things that arise during event planning.

Justice Studies student Jenny Trang, Vice-President of mooting operations with the Pre-Law Society, learned a lot during the process, but one thing stuck with her.
“My biggest learning from organizing this event is just how passionate students are not only in  improving their personal oral advocacy, but also in learning how to analyze the legal issues of a case from two different perspectives.”

Trang also noted that with their event taking place after the semester ended, it was amazing to see how many undergraduate students wanted to take on the challenge despite it being during the summer months. 

The case presented to the appellant court was of an Indigenous, single parent who was charged for drug trafficking. Competitors had to present two sides of the case to a panel of judges which included among others, Guelph-Humber graduate, Ovais Ahmad, an assistant crown attorney, Ms. Kasper, and Sarah Strban a criminal defence lawyer at Henein Hutchison Robitaille.

Allidina, was optimistic about the future of the legal system following the event.

“The future of criminal and Indigenous law is bright. I had the opportunity to witness just how many actors in the legal field were willing to invest their time and resources in the future of the criminal legal system and how many of them are driven to make it a just system focused on true reconciliation between Indigenous peoples and other treaty people.”