Intensive Program in Indigenous Lands, Resources & Governments

Students standing in Teepee structure

The Intensive Program in Indigenous Lands, Resources, and Governments (IPILRG) tackles the crucial legal challenge of building non-oppressive relations with Indigenous peoples on Indigenous lands. Founded in the aftermath of the “Oka crisis” (Kanesatake), the Program explores the legal issues related to Indigenous Peoples and Indigenous rights through the combination of a rigorous academic experience with challenging placements in Indigenous, Aboriginal, or environmental law.  IPILRG is the only one of its kind in North America. It is also the only Osgoode clinical program that is open to non-Osgoode students; see External Applicants for more details.

Because of the challenging nature of the placements, the program is designed for students in the last term of their third year of law school, although second-year students are occasionally permitted. Both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students are eligible, but normally half of the students accepted will be Indigenous.

What You Will Do

A series of intensive seminars early in the winter semester will prepare you to undertake a seven-week field placement with an Indigenous organization, environmental organization, on reserve, with a law firm, or with a government department where you will have the opportunity to work on applied legal issues.  The seminar will teach you how to use law in creative ways to solve problems.  Thinking about how to identify, interpret, and apply Aboriginal and Indigenous laws, as well as the rules and legislation developed by First Nations themselves, is at the heart of the community lawyering approach taken throughout the Program.  Your field work may include land claims research, analyzing new legislation, assistance in preparation for litigation, attending negotiation sessions, making presentations to Chief and Council, and/or accompanying Crown attorneys on a fly-in circuit court.  There are a limited number of placements outside of Canada, which in the recent past have included organizations based in Latin America and the United States. Your time in the field is followed with another series of intensive workshops where you will have the opportunity to both share learnings from your own placement, and to learn from the experiences of other students.

Examples of Past Placements

  • Aboriginal Legal Services
  • West Coast Environmental Law
  • Maya Leaders Alliance, Belize
  • Ministry of the Attorney General, Indigenous Justice Division
  • Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation
  • Six Nations of the Grand River

What You Will Learn

  • practical skills and theoretical frameworks to address legal issues relating to Indigenous peoples in an open and creative way
  • a contextualized approach to identifying and applying the law (Indigenous, First Nations, and state law) that takes account of the distinctive history, culture, and political situation of Indigenous Peoples
  • to critically appraise problems encountered in the application of the State legal system in relation to Indigenous Peoples, and reflect on ways of improving that system
  • the foundations of basic lawyering skills, including communication, negotiation, time management, and teamwork and how these skills differ in the State legal context and in the context of particular Indigenous legal orders
  • the ethical and professional responsibilities of lawyers in practice working for Indigenous communities or on Indigenous legal issues
  • skills in legal research and report and memo writing

Program Directors

Professor Jeffery G. Hewitt

Professor Amar Bhatia