Indigenous Perspectives and Realities

This course will introduce students to fundamentals of knowledge systems that inform  
Indigenous understandings of law, justice, governance and treaties.  It is intended to provide students with a deeper understanding and appreciation of the lived experience of Indigenous peoples in Canada.   This course is offered as an experiential education opportunity that will assist students in gaining familiarity, in a variety of contexts, with the diversity of Indigenous worldviews, ontologies and epistemologies that frame Indigenous reality.  The course will examine major political, educational, economic, legal, and cultural issues facing Indigenous peoples and communities in Canada in both present-day and historical contexts.  Course material will be drawn from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Ipperwash Inquiry, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and Murdered Missing Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry; as well as other materials that provide insights into the contemporary reality of Indigenous peoples.
As the main goal of the course is for students to demonstrate a sound appreciation for the perspectives and realities of Indigenous peoples, students will learn directly from Indigenous peoples through guest speakers and assigned multi-media.  Students will be required to participate in land based  and experiential activities outside of the law school; there will be a remote option for students to fulfill these requirements remotely.   The course will be framed around the concept of ‘place’ (e.g., urban Toronto) and explore relationships to place from a variety of experiential perspectives (e.g., Indigenous, ally, settler Canadian, newcomer).

International Human Rights

This seminar combines four goals in terms of its subject-matter coverage: an introduction to major institutions and processes of the international  human rights law (IHRL) system (including a review of closely related fields of international law such as international criminal law, international humanitarian law, international refugee law, and indigenous peoples’ rights); an overview of some core doctrine and debates related to a selection of protected human rights (e.g. those related to life, health, torture, forced labour and slavery, freedom of expression and information); engagement with certain general concepts and debates about individual rights as well as the system as a whole (including criticisms and controversies); and — the focus for the better part of the seminar — the various ways in which international human rights law can be used as a legal advocacy tool within the domestic system.
The IHRL system is vast, and the goal of the course is not to provide a comprehensive doctrinal understanding of the entire field. Rather, the objective is for students to come away with a basic familiarity with the fundamental architecture of the system, the resources with which to navigate it, and knowledge of the ways in which international human rights law can be used to inform and support human rights advocacy under domestic legal systems. In addition, through the requirement of a major paper, each student will gain more focused knowledge of a specialized topic of the student’s choice.
Student learning will take place by completion of assigned readings, online posting of brief comments by students, and discussion in class, combined with the preparation of a major research paper. Students will additionally have the option of doing a practical memo or short paper for a civil-society partner for a portion of their grade – subject to availability of partners seeking assistance.
The class meets once a week in a 2-hour time slot. Guests may on occasion be beamed into the class using a classroom internet connection; a couple of classes may be scheduled to be fully remote on Zoom where it is planned to take up the entire time interacting with a guest or guests.

Comparative Law: Indigenous Legal Traditions

This seminar will introduce students to non-state Indigenous legal orders. Using a transsystemic pedagogical model and a wide range of reading materials (legal cases, methodology, pedagogy, anthropology, theory) students will critically explore the theories and practices of indigenous legal traditions through analysis and substantive treatment of: indigenous sources of law; oral histories and traditions (as legal archive); legal cases and precedent; modes of reasoning and interpretation; and authority and legitimacy.

Indigenous Peoples and Canadian Law

This substantive law course will explore the interactions between Canadian common law and Indigenous law, primarily Anishinaabe law. The content will be viewed through the lens of Indigenous worldviews. Topics will include, but are not limited to: Indigenous sources of law; historical context and constitutional framework re: Indigenous Peoples; Aboriginal Rights, Title and the Doctrine of Discovery; treaties; resource rights and consultation; and the Indian Act and Identity. The course will be presented from a practitioner’s perspective working within Anishinaabe communities, with attention to practical intersections between the various topics. This course fulfills the prerequisite requirements for the Intensive Program in Indigenous Lands, Resources and Governments.

Indigenous Peoples and Canadian Law

This course will provide a critical survey of state law as it relates to Indigenous peoples in Canada. Topics will include: the historical context and constitutional framework; Aboriginal rights and title; self-government; treaties and treaty rights; the Indian Act; Inuit rights; Métis rights; and the authority and obligations of the federal and provincial governments.

This course fulfills the prerequisite requirements for the Intensive Program in Aboriginal Lands, Resources and Governments. It is also recommended for students who plan to take an advanced seminar on Indigenous Peoples and the Law.

Indigenous Peoples and Canadian Law

This substantive law course provides a critical survey of state law as it relates to Indigenous peoples and lands in what is now known as Canada. Topics include but are not limited to: Indigenous sources of law; international law; Indigenous women, gender and law; historical context and constitutional framework re. Indigenous Peoples; Aboriginal title and doctrine of discovery; treaties; resource rights, extinguishment and consultation; the Indian Act and identity; allyship; & community lawyering. The class is taught through the use of a variety of techniques, including class exercises, videos, and collaborative problem-solving. This course fulfills the prerequisite requirements for the Intensive Program in Indigenous Lands, Resources and Governments.

Indigenous Peoples and Canadian Law

This substantive law course explores Indigenous legal orders – mainly nêhiyaw (Cree) and Anishinaabe laws – through the lens of Indigenous worldview(s), and provides a critical survey of state (mainly Canadian) law.  Topics include but are not limited to: Indigenous sources of law; international law; Indigenous women, gender and law; historical context and constitutional framework re. Indigenous Peoples; doctrine of discovery; treaties; resource rights, extinguishment and consultation. This course consists of weekly lectures and in-class discussions. Evaluations encompass: in-class quizzes, participation, and an advocacy component. This course also fulfills the prerequisite requirements for the Intensive Program in Indigenous Lands, Resources and Governments.

Indigenous Peoples and Canadian Law

After acknowledging the reality and internal consistency of Indigenous legal systems, this course will seek to develop critical understanding of Canadian law as it affects Indigenous peoples, with particular focus on constitutional themes. 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). Ideally, one class session will feature Toronto lawyers who represent Indigenous clients, discussing practice-related issues.

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.

Environmental Law

This course introduces the law of environmental protection in Canada.  In considering a wide range of environmental issues, we will bring major issues and contemporary developments to life using news stories, videos, case studies, and possible guest lectures.  We will begin with an overview of the controversies and problems that environmental disputes, laws and policies attempt to resolve.  We then will explore topics such as common law environmental litigation (e.g. toxic torts, class actions, SLAPP suits); jurisdiction to legislate (e.g. federal/provincial division of powers, local government powers, Aboriginal self-government); command regulation, regulatory innovations, and market-based alternatives (e.g. emissions trading); public participation and environmental rights (e.g. Ontario Environmental Bill of Rights, community right to know laws); environmental compliance and enforcement (e.g. environmental sentencing, citizen enforcement); judicial review of environmental decision-making (e.g. standard of review, public interest standing); major federal and Ontario environmental statutes (e.g. air, water, waste, contaminated lands; parks/protected areas; species at risk); comparisons with U.S. environmental law and policy; international law and the environment (e.g. multilateral environmental agreements, international trade and investment law; and cross-cutting issues (e.g. climate change, food policy).  During the term, students will present on an assignment relevant to the current topic(s).
The course is integrated with the Faculty of Environment & Urban Change graduate course ENVS 6164 and typically includes students from the MES and MBA programs, whose presence greatly enriches the learning experience.

Animals and the Law

This course analyzes the legal treatment of nonhuman animals, interrogating the limits of
the prevailing property concept that treats them as objects when they are also sentient
subjects with some legal rights. Topics explored include emerging alternatives to the
persons vs property debate; federal anti-cruelty protections and provincial welfare
legislation in Canada; and Indigenous laws and perspectives on nonhuman animals.