Indigenous law is Canadian law.

Indigenous law doesn't exist alongside Canadian law: it's interwoven with it. Understanding the complex history of Aboriginal peoples, treaty rights and Canadian law is essential not only to understand Canadian society it's crucial to our natural resource and energy sectors.

Take a deep look at Aboriginal law in Canada through this undergraduate-level survey course. Reconciliation between the Canadian state and the Aboriginal peoples of Canada is a central concern of Canadian law in the 21st century, one that reaches into every sector of Canadian society.

Resource development, environmental regulation, the criminal justice system, constitutional politics, international relations, intellectual property rights, social welfare policy, cultural development, health care services, education, and language policy are only some of the areas where an understanding of the law relating to Aboriginal peoples has become an urgent necessity.

This course will introduce students to the historical, social and political forces at play in developing the legal framework surrounding the relationship between the Canadian state and the Aboriginal peoples of Canada, and discuss new developments that are reshaping the legal landscape.

These forces include increased recognition of Aboriginal rights to land, the duty to consult, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

Understand Aboriginal law in Canada -- and the historical and contemporary forces at play in the ongoing process of reconciliation.

Course Learning Outcomes (CLO)

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • CLO 1: Describe some of the major historical, social, and political forces impacting the
    development and evolution of the legal framework between the Canadian state
    and the Aboriginal peoples of Canada.
  • CLO 2: Explain the main points of interaction between the Canadian legal system and the
    Aboriginal peoples of Canada in areas such as resource development, the criminal
    justice system, and social welfare.
  • CLO 3: Describe the importance of Indigenous legal traditions in Canada to current and
    future reconciliation between the Canadian state and Aboriginal peoples.
  • CLO 4: Contrast Western and Indigenous traditions of legal reasoning and argumentation.
  • CLO 5: Describe current legal issues affecting Aboriginal peoples of Canada within the
    broader context of the world’s Indigenous peoples.
  • CLO 6: Evaluate the impact of international standards on Canadian Aboriginal Law, including the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Course Offering (may be subject to change) 

Aboriginal Law (Law 202/702) is offered every September and May. 

Assessment Weighting (may be subject to change)

Quizzes (Individual) 10%
Discussions (Individual) 10%
Case Study Assignment (Individual) 40%
Negotiations* (Group & Individual) 40%

*The Negotiation Assignment will take place over four (4) weeks of the 12-week term with either the instructor or one of the Teaching Assistants. Each session will be held on the same day of the week and will start at the same time. You must first sign up for a group at one of the pre-determined times by following the instructions outlined in Negotiation Overview document which is located in your onQ course page (Note: you will not have access to this PDF document until enrolled). The four synchronous sessions will be held through Zoom in Weeks 7, 8, 10 and 12 of the course. 

Course Materials 

There is no required textbook for this course