Indigenous Peoples and the Law

Curriculum Guideline

Effective Date:
Course Code
LGST 3330
Indigenous Peoples and the Law
Legal Studies
Humanities & Social Sciences
Start Date
End Term
Not Specified
Semester Length
15 Weeks
Max Class Size
Course Designation
Certificate in Global Competency
Industry Designation
Contact Hours

4 hours per week

Weekly Distribution:

  • Lecture/Seminar:
  • Lab:
  • Other:
Method(s) Of Instruction
Learning Activities



4 hours per week

Course Description
This course attends to the rapidly evolving legal landscape of Aboriginal Law in Canada. The focus is on the interaction of Canadian politics, Parliament, and codified and common law surrounding sovereignty, rights, title and treaties. This complex and often litigious subject matter is approached from historical, social and legal contexts. Specific attention will include the Canadian Criminal Justice System particularly the impact of landmark Supreme Court decisions and the influence of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Course Content

1) Aboriginal Law

  • What is the difference between Aboriginal law and Indigenous law?
  • Who are Indigenous peoples in Canada?
  • What are the sources and objectives of Aboriginal law?
  • Why are Indigenous peoples treated differently?

2) History of Aboriginal Law in Canada

  • Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples
    • Separate Worlds
    • Contact and Cooperation
    • Displacement and Assimilation 
    • Negotiation and Renewal

3) The Indian Act

  • What is the definition of "Indian" under the Act?
  • How has this definition denied Indigenous rights?
  • How does the Quebec Supreme Court decision in Descheneaux v. Canada change this definition?
  • How does the Canadian government's response (Bill S-3) impact this decision?

4) United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

  • Historical overview
  • Interpretations 
  • Past and present responses in Canada

5) Indigenous Sovereignty 

  • Self-determination 
  • Self-government
  • Role of the Crown

6) Indigenous Rights, Title and Treaties

  • Definitions
  • Charter
  • SCC Decisions
    • R. v Sparrow
    • R. v Van de Peet
    • R. v Delgamuukw
    • R. v Tsilhqot'in
    • R. v Sappier
    • R. v Calder

7) Duty to Consult, Accommodate and Obtain Consent

  • Definitions and Relationships
  • Role of Government and Courts

8) Criminal Justice System

  • Historical Overview
  • Canadian Criminal Code
    • s. 718.2(e)
  • Sentencing
    • Supreme Court Decisions
      • R. v Gladue
      • R. v Wells
      • R. v Ipeelee
Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of this course, the successful student will be able to:

1) Illustrate the historical context and current realities of Indigenous rights in Canada

2) Discuss the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and its impact in Canada

3) Analyze relevant legislation such as the Indian Act and Bill S-3 

4) Illustrate the significance of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples

5) Describe Indigenous sovereignty and the responses in Parliament to these rights 

6) Analyze the significance of major common law decisions surrounding Indigenous rights and title

7) Examine the historical importance of treaties in Canada and their impact on the claims of Indigenous Peoples

8) Explain duty to consult, to accommodate and to obtain consent, and how relevant court decisions on these duties impact government

9) Explain how landmark Supreme Court decisions and related amendments in legislation have changed the Canadian Criminal Justice System



Means of Assessment

Means of assessment will be in accordance with Douglas College policy. An example of a course breakdown is as follows:

Term Paper 25%

Midterm 30%

Final Exam 30%

Class Project 15%

Textbook Materials

Textbooks and material will be assigned by the instructor. An example of the text is: 


Reynolds, James. (2018). Aboriginal Peoples and the Law: A Critical Introduction. Vancouver: Purich Books. 




Courses listed here are equivalent to this course and cannot be taken for further credit:

  • No equivalency courses