Indigenous Course Offerings

Lakehead University's Faculty of Law is leading the way in Aboriginal legal education for all our students. 

Our program includes two mandatory half-year courses in first year: Indigenous Legal Traditions and Aboriginal Perspectives. The second year of our program features one mandatory full-year course: Aboriginal Law.

Our program also offers a compelling range of 1-credit (intensive) elective courses taught by legal experts in the area of Aboriginal law and we hope to extend our Aboriginal course offerings as we grow.

Indigenous Legal Traditions (LAW1530)

This half-year course examines the laws and legal traditions of various Indigenous nations, such as the Cree, Anishinabek, Métis, Witsuwit’en and Gitksan nations. It is taught from an Indigenous perspective, focusing on Indigenous peoples’ own laws, worldviews and understanding of their treaties with the Crown.

In the past, many Indigenous laws have been suppressed – but not fully extinguished – through colonialism and attempted cultural genocide. There is now a burgeoning movement seeking to revitalize, recognize and apply Indigenous laws and legal principles.

This course aims to prepare students to contribute to that movement by providing them with the tools to develop a conceptual framework for understanding non-state, decentralized legal orders.

Aboriginal Perspectives (LAW1535)

Aboriginal Perspectives is a non-credit course, where students will be introduced to Aboriginal culture, traditions and perspectives through invited speakers and out of class opportunities to interact with Aboriginal communities. Certain in-class sessions are mandatory and will be scheduled throughout the first year. In addition students are to complete their own hours of engagement with Aboriginal communities. The hours may include scheduled opportunities in the law school such as guest speakers, elder talks, and special ceremonies. Outside of the law school students may attend Aboriginal cultural events, ceremonies, conferences or volunteer with Aboriginal organizations. 

Aboriginal Law (LAW2000)

This full-year course examines Canadian laws applied to Aboriginal peoples. It focuses on the jurisprudence pertaining to constitutionally protected Aboriginal and treaty rights and engages in a critical evaluation of that jurisprudence and its underlying tenets, such as the assumption of Crown sovereignty.

An increasingly important aspect of this jurisprudence is the Crown’s duty to consult with and accommodate Aboriginal peoples in certain circumstances; this course explores the many recent developments in this area of law, particularly in the context of resource extraction.

Finally, this course considers international law pertaining to Indigenous issues, including the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It examines not only the substantive rights protected by the Declaration, but also the ways in which Canadian courts may potentially apply the Declaration domestically.

2L and 3L 1-credit Elective Courses (as of Sept 2014)

Enrolling in three of the four elective courses will allow students to have a "Special Topics in Aboriginal Law" course on their transcript. The courses will be taught by legal experts in their fields, in an intensive mode over the Winter semester. 

Impact Benefit Agreements - taught by Jason Madden, Pape Salt Teilet LLP

Legal Issues in First Nations Governance - taught by Judith Rae, OKT

Anishinaabe Constitutionalism - taught by Aaron Mills, PhD candidate at UVic

Natural Resource Development & Aboriginal Peoples - Taught by Dr Peggy Smith, Faculty of Natural Resources Management, Lakehead University