Interdisciplinary Human Rights Studies (The Right to Water and Sanitation in First Nation Communities)

Who should take this course: Students who want to write a research paper on Aboriginal and Indigenous law, environmental law, human rights law and/or advocacy strategies.

What we will cover:  Through readings, presentations and seminars, we will consider the persistent problem of the lack of clean drinking water and adequate sanitation in First Nation communities in Canada and what do to about this problem. We will examine five legal frameworks for understanding roles, relationships, responsibilities and rights in relation to water in Canada: Anishinaabe law, Indigenous-settler treaties, Canadian constitutional law, statutory approaches and Canada’s international law commitments. We will think about how lawyers can work with scientists, engineers and social scientists. We will examine various advocacy strategies including civil resistance. We may visit, on a weekend, the Shoal Lake First Nation #40 Museum of Human Rights Violations.

Advance field work:  Two water conferences or gatherings are being held this summer that students are encouraged to attend if possible.

At Robson Hall. No charge but please register so that we can plan food.

Teaching Method: Many of the seminars will feature guest speakers and they will be open to the public. As this is a seminar course, students will be expected to participate in dialogue with the guest and other participants. The public seminars will be two hours long and the student cohort will usually meet together in the third hour.

Course Work and Evaluation: Students are expected to attend seminars. To accommodate some speakers, seminars may occasionally be held at a different time from the normal timeslot and students are expected to make every effort to attend these seminars.

Students will be graded on two written assignments and on class participation. The first short written assignment (1,500 words) will be due in late September or early October and will be worth 15% of the course grade. The second research assignment is an 8,000-word research paper worth 75% of the final grade. The paper will be due on the last day of classes in December. Students are expected to meet with Prof. Busby to discuss both of their written assignments and students may hand in a draft version of the second assignment for feedback no later than 3 weeks before the due date. Finally, students will be evaluated on participation and engagement (worth 10% of the final grade.) Participation and engagement grades will be based on preparation, attendance and participation in the seminars; participation in the inter-disciplinary cohort events; inviting other students to come to the seminars and engaging them in discussion on the issues; and the seminar presentations.

Materials: Readings will be assigned for each seminar.

Instructor: Karen Busby

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