The principal aim of this section of the course is to develop critical understanding of those parts of Canadian constitutional law that pertain specifically to Indigenous peoples. Topics will include the notions of sovereignty and self-determination, relevant British imperial law, the honour of the Crown and the enforceable Crown obligations to which it gives rise, federal and provincial legislative authority, section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, Aboriginal rights and title, treaties and treaty rights, and Indigenous self-government (statutory and constitutional). The plan is for one class session, late in the term, to feature Toronto lawyers who represent or advise Indigenous clients, discussing practice-related issues.
The course will also acknowledge the reality, the coherence and the efficacy of Indigenous law. Early in the term, an Indigenous law scholar will spend one class session introducing the students to an Indigenous legal order. But Indigenous law will figure somewhat less prominently in this section of the course than it does in some other sections, because the instructor, who is not Indigenous, has neither authority nor permission to pronounce on matters internal to any Indigenous legal order. Students whose primary interest is in Indigenous law may prefer another section of this course, or may wish to supplement this course with a companion course whose specific focus is Indigenous law.
This course satisfies the prerequisite requirement for the Intensive Program in Aboriginal Lands, Resources and Governments. It may also be useful background for advanced seminars about Indigenous Peoples and the Law.