Indigenous Course Offerings

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

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

Our program also offers a compelling range of elective courses taught by legal experts in the area of Indigenous law.

Indigenous Legal Traditions (LAWS 1530)

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.

Indigenous Perspectives (LAWS 1535)

Indigenous Perspectives is a non-credit course, where students will be introduced to Aboriginal culture, traditions and perspectives through invited speakers, Elders, and out of class opportunities to interact with Indigenous 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 Indigenous communities and local initiatives. 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 cultural events, ceremonies, conferences or volunteer opportunities. 

Aboriginal Law (LAWS 2000)

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.

Specialization in Aboriginal and Indigenous Law

All 2L and 3L students at the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law now have an opportunity to specialize in Aboriginal and Indigenous Law.  For more information, please review the official description here.
Purpose of specialization: The specialization in Aboriginal and Indigenous Law is designed to provide students with the specialized knowledge and skills necessary to understand Indigenous peoples' beliefs, cultures, histories, and legal and governance practices, as well as the sets of laws and legislations that govern Indigenous peoples' lives.  
Courses required for specializations: In addition to the mandatory courses including Indigenous Legal Traditions (LAWS 153), Indigenous Perspectives (LAWS 1535), and Aboriginal Law (LAWS 2000), all students specializing in Aboriginal and Indigenous Law must complete 1.0 FCE (two electives) chosen from the following approved electives:
  • Intellectual Property and Indigenous Knowledge (LAWS 2531)
  • Aboriginal Law in the North (LAWS 2531)
  • Federal and Aboriginal Law of Work (LAWS 2555)*
  • Kawaskimhon Moot (LAWS 3513)
  • Directed Research Paper (LAWS 3533) **
*Federal and Aboriginal Law of Work was offered during the 2021/2022 academic year.  It is not being offered during the 2022/2023 academic year.  Therefore, if you are a 3L student who took this course last academic year, it would count towards your 1.0 FCE elective required for the specialization.
**Students are invited to write a Directed Research Paper as an elective towards this specialization. Students are reminded that there is a process for applying to take the Directed Research Paper course (please see the "LAWS 3533 - Directed Research Paper Approval Policy and Instructions" that was sent out with the registration information email).  On approval of the Dean, in appropriate cases, a student may be permitted to do a substantial research paper.  In order for the paper to qualify for the specialization, an appropriate research topic in the area of Aboriginal and/or Indigenous Law must be pursued. 
Confirmation of specialization: Upon graduation, students who have met the requirements for the specialization have the following notation added to their transcript: "Specialization in Aboriginal and Indigenous Law".