Aboriginal Peoples and the Law

Course Number
LAW 3310
Course Description

The following themes have been identified for exploration in the class:
1. Indigenous Laws and Legal Orders
2. The Relationship between the Crown and Indigenous Peoples / Reconciliation
3. Treaties/the Treaty Relationship
4. The Constitutional and Aboriginal Law Framework
5. Indigenous Identity
When we learn about something, we start at the beginning. When it comes to learning about
Indigenous peoples and the law, this course will recognize that the beginning is a place beyond
what we were initially taught in the Canadian education system. As we are coming to understand,
there are laws that have existed in what is now Canada and Manitoba since time immemorial.
This course is meant to provide a starting place for the recognition that any discussion on law as
it relates to Indigenous peoples in Canada, begins with Indigenous Laws and Legal Orders as lived
and held by nations.
We look to Indigenous Laws and Legal Orders on relationships – wakohtowin – as our guide and
roadmap for the course. We examine Canadian law as it relates to Indigenous peoples – the Royal
Proclamation, the Treaty of Niagara, Constitutional Acts, Treaties, the Indian Act, as well as case
law on Aboriginal title and Aboriginal rights. We will discuss the ways Indigenous people,
communities and nations bring about change through litigation, negotiation, political advocacy,
grassroots movements and business.
Course materials and lectures aim to provide a community perspective in order to assist students
in developing an understanding of and appreciation for the day-to-day issues that are faced by
people at the community level. Much of the case law and complex legal doctrines being examined
in the curriculum have been the result of community people acting in accordance with laws,
practices, customs and traditions that have been followed by communities for generations. The
efforts of Indigenous nations to revitalize and restore laws and processes in furtherance of the
right to self-determination will be a common thread throughout subject matter covered

Teaching Method

**Please note: students are not permitted to record (audio or video) class without instructor’s prior written approval.**

Seminar course comprised of written work (research paper), positive contributions during class discussions, presentation of news stories related to course material.


Class Participation - 15%
Class Presentation - 20%
Self-Evaluation Report - 5%
Final Written Work - 60%

Course Materials

Select materials indicated below. Materials will be available on UM Learn. Check regularly as there may be changes/updates to materials.


Jessica Saunders