Communicating Effectively with Indigenous Clients

Communicating Effectively with Indigenous Clients

(Dr. Lorna Fadden and Edited by Jonathan Rudin, Aboriginal Legal Services)

What this guide includes.


Our starting point in this guide is as follows:

Indigenous clients have:


• the right to be represented effectively and in a manner that is respectful of their linguistic, cultural, and personal backgrounds;

• the right to be understood when they are speaking; and

• the right to understand what is being said about them and in relation to their case.


These are rights that few would dispute, and indeed, it is certain that everyone who works to represent Indigenous clients would agree that the system and all those who work within it must do their best to ensure that these rights are safeguarded.


Our aim in preparing this guide is twofold.


In Part I, we report on the issues raised by Indigenous clients themselves, who have been or are currently engaged in criminal proceedings. They have generously shared their experiences with us, to help inform the legal community of the obstacles that confront them when building a relationship with their counsel and when appearing in court. Throughout this booklet we will use the terms Indigenous and Aboriginal interchangeably. 

In Part II, we introduce the features of Aboriginal varieties of English and alert the reader to how linguistic prejudice can disadvantage their clients. What sets this guide apart from other instructional materials about working with Indigenous clients is that we address the problem from a linguistic point of view, from a client point of view, and from an Indigenous point of view.

We gratefully acknowledge Dr. Fadden, Jonathan Rudin and ALS

Source: Communicating with Indigenous Clients
Author: Dr. Lorna Fadden 
Editor: Jonathan Rudin (LLM)

© The Gladue Writers Society of British Columbia 2019