Indigenous Courses

Indigenous Legal Orders (LAWG5962) 
Credits: 3

There are three founding partners of confederation, which includes Indigenous Peoples, who contributed all of the lands and resources to what is now known as Canada. Indigenous Nations also have laws, which form part of Canada’s legal heritage along with both common (English) and civil (French) legal orders. In recent years, law school curriculum across Canada has been expanding to include course content on Indigenous legal orders, taught alongside both common and civil law.  

This course explores Indigenous legal orders through the lens of Indigenous worldview(s).

Evolving out of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the mandate of the Law Society of Ontario and the Federation of Law Societies, this course is a substantive law course structured on Indigenous methodologies and pedagogies.  

Other courses in the law school, including other 1L courses, include critiques of Canadian law in relation to Indigenous Peoples. This course is focused on substantive content of Indigenous legal orders, not a critique of Canadian law. In particular, given the law school itself sits on Anishinaabe lands, this course begins with Anishinaabe law. Haudenosaunee and Cree laws are also laws of these lands and included in this course.  

Aboriginal Law in Society (LAWG-5923)
Credits: 3; Perspectives

This course will examine Canadian law that applies to Aboriginal Peoples (ie. First Nations, Inuit and Metis) from contact to current date. The course will include topics such as the Royal Proclamation, Pre- & Post Confederation Treaties, Aboriginal and Treaty Rights (S. 35 of Constitution Act, 1982), Self-Government, Indian Act, Land Claims, Criminal Legal System and Matrimonial Real Property. 

Anishinaabe Law Camp (LAWG-5995)
Credits: 3; Perspectives

The Pii ki giigidod, N bizendaami: When the Earth Speaks, We Listen Anishinaabe Camp is offered as a four-day Intensive Learning on the Land course. The course will be conducted on Walpole Island First Nation, a First Nation community approximately 1.5 hours from Windsor. This on the land course is designed to assist students in understanding how Indigenous Law is found in many different aspects of the natural and living world. Students will have an opportunity to learn from Indigenous Knowledge keepers through song, dance, ceremony, storytelling and sharing circles. Students will learn first-hand how laws are formulated within an Indigenous context.

The class will take place over a four-day intensive period; Thursday, March 11 through Sunday, March 14, 2021. The 4-day Anishinaabe Camp will be held at a lodge located on Walpole Island First Nation. During this 4-day camp 2L and 3L students will learn how Anishinaabe law operates and how it can be found in traditional stories, the environment, treaties, declarations, customs, etc. The camp is outdoors, on land and water, and in a First Nation community territory which is conducive to learning about Indigenous laws. Delivery Method can include the following: The Anishinaabe Law Camp will be delivered via a hands-on experiential learning methodology.

Students will learn and explore the laws of the natural world by listening to teachings from Indigenous traditional people and Elders, participating in Indigenous cultural practices and learning from the land. 

Externship Placement: Six Nations of the Grand River Justice Department (LAWG-5933)

Credits: 4

Windsor Law’s Externship Program incorporates work-integrated and skills-based learning alongside critical reflection, self-directed personal and career planning, focus on ethical and professional practice, and engagement with access to justice in theory and practice. The Learning in Place seminar - together with the Placement - makes up Windsor Law’s Externship Program. The Seminar portion consists of three elements. First, students learn together in an introductory class that will prepare them for work in their placements. Students then meet once every week hours over the term. The course culminates in an intensive large group meeting where students reflect upon and share their learning, discuss challenges and successes, and showcase work outcomes to their colleagues (subject to ethical considerations). Students engage in discussions about access to justice, theories of lawyering, and the connection between law and social change with a focus on the experiences that students have at the Externship Placement.] This Seminar is designed as an opportunity for students to critically reflect upon their externship experiences, the law, the legal system, and their roles and identities as legal advocates. It requires students to integrate reading, reflection, practice, and classroom discussion about the process of lawyering and the role of the advocate in a community. Students will have the opportunity to articulate, reflect on, and synthesize their learning experiences. By the end of the Seminar, students will have developed their lawyering skills as well as their critical analysis of access to justice in practice. 

Students will work under the direction of a lawyer in the Justice Department of Six Nations. The Six Nations consist of the Mohawk, Oneida, Cayuga, Seneca, Onondaga and Tuscarora peoples, and is the largest population of all First nations in Canada. Students will be placed at the Six Nations Justice Department along with other justice related services. This is a multi-disciplinary department which has hosted social work and law students in the past. Areas of law include Child Welfare, victim services, family law, Indigenous legal traditions. Students should enter the placement with basic knowledge of the Six Nations territory and history. Reading materials available through the Externship Director or the on-site supervisor. 

Reconciliation and the Residential School Legacy (LAWG-5835)

Credits: 3

The course focuses on the Residential School Legacy providing students with a comprehensive understanding of the Federal Indian Education policy and other federal government responses that led to the signing of the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement in 2005. The course will also explore the impacts the residential school system had upon survivors and their intergenerational family members then move onto an examination of the healing movement that emerged across Canada in the 1980s. To conclude the course, the class will look at reconciliation and efforts to move the Residential School Legacy forward. The course will be delivered by lecture, seminars, interactive discussions and video. 

Project based External Placement: International Law, Genocide and Indigenous Peoples (LAWG-5958-6) 
Credits: 3; Perspectives

This course is part of a two-year pilot for students interested in research and litigation in international law, genocide and Indigenous peoples. Students are expected to enroll in only one year of the course. The overarching goal of the course is to strategize a legal action before an international body relating to Indigenous peoples and the Canadian settler state. Students will engage in a scoping exercise with a view to assessing the viability of different kinds of international claims rooted in colonial genocide.

We will examine broad thematic questions, including: What is genocide? Why does genocide occur? What is the relationship between genocide and Indigenous peoples in settler states, such as Canada? What remedies would a claim for genocide offer Indigenous peoples in Canada? Students will spend the course engaging with the international law of genocide, the international laws of Indigenous peoples (such as Cree, Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee), Indigenous women and law, and the relationship between Indigenous peoples and Canada. As a case study, this course will focus on the forced sterilization of Indigenous women in North America as part of the ongoing colonial project. 

First Nations Women and the Law (08-98-971-69)
Credits: 3

This course will introduce students to Indigenous legal traditions that recognize the inherent laws that identified the leadership strengths and responsibilities of Indigenous women. This course will also introduce the imposition of colonial law that has had an impact upon Indigenous lives, including Indigenous women’s lives. Canada has defined Aboriginal peoples in the Constitution Act, 1982, s. 35 (1) as “Indians, Metis and Inuit” peoples. “Indians” have been renamed as “First Nations”. The focus of the second part of this course is to also understand how Canadian laws have impacted the lives of Indigenous women aka “First Nations” women. The focus of the third section of the course is to understand teachings directly from the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers and to understand these teachings as Indigenous legal traditions. 


Kawaskimhon “To Speak With Knowledge” Aboriginal Moot

Credits: 4

The University of Windsor, Faculty of Law, has participated in the Kawaskimhon Aboriginal Moot for over 12 years. Around 15 law schools from across the country participate in peaceful negotiation and consensus-building, rather than adversarial competition, conducted in accordance with Aboriginal customs. Participation in this moot is open to second- and third-year law students, and is a four (4) credit course, applied in the Winter Term. 

The Kawaskimhon Aboriginal Moot will be held virtually in March 2021. The format of Kawaskimhon, which is a Cree word meaning “to speak with knowledge,” encourages students to bring their unique personal perspectives to bear on a collective problem affecting Aboriginal peoples and to work toward a mutual consensus. There are no competitive awards, but the moot is invaluable in giving Aboriginal students and students interested in Aboriginal law an opportunity to forge bonds with each other and deepen their understanding of Aboriginal legal issues. 

Indigenous Peoples, Art and Human Rights (08-98-971-64)

Credits: 3; Paper and Perspectives

This course explores human rights values through the worldview(s) of Indigenous Peoples as well as the lenses of art and law. In this time of Canada’s national truth and reconciliation project, this course considers various themes such as the meaning of truth and reconciliation as may be reflected through Indigenous perspectives as well as both Canadian and international human rights. Human rights are often contextualized as ‘universal’, thereby carrying implications in generalization. Evolving out of the United Nations in the 1940’s and favouring Western nation-states’ post-WWII interests, Indigenous Peoples were not included in the conceptualization or articulation of human rights. Indigenous Peoples, however, have had some successes of arguing in Canadian and international human rights arenas. But at what costs, if any?

The law of human rights typically focuses on exposing and cataloguing violations based on the actions of individuals, groups, agencies, corporations and governments. In other words, law’s examination of human rights is not predictive or preventative but rather a dissection of offences. Art is also often a vehicle dissecting human rights violations, but might art also be a pro-active form of engagement that promotes human rights as an instrument of inclusion and calls for action? Might art also be law? For many Indigenous Peoples, art is deeply integrated into culture.

Similarly, law is often transmitted to Indigenous Peoples through – among other things – ceremonies, stories, songs and dance as well as living in and observing the natural world. Conversely, Canadian art, like law is generated by a select group of specially trained individuals. Does artmaking, like law-making, uphold colonial mythology to the ongoing exclusion of Indigenous Peoples? Is there a right to art? If so, is it a human right? This course explores how law and art may both frame and interrupt the flow of Indigenous laws. It considers the possible roles (if any) of human rights in the context of Indigenous Peoples, art and law. 

Indigenous Child Welfare (LAWG-5971-38)
Credits: 3

This course is designed to provide students with the opportunity to learn and understand the complexities of Indigenous child welfare law in Canada. The course will have a special emphasis upon Indigenous children within the child welfare system. The Course will include lecture, role plays, presentations and guest speakers who practice within the area of child welfare law. The term begins with an overview of child welfare law in Canada then moves onto the role of Children’s Aid Society, the role of the court system, the role of lawyers and the role of Band Representatives. The course will require students to work closely with the Child Welfare legislation. The course will also look at Indigenous children during the residential school era, the Sixties Scoop and the current status of children within the child welfare system. 

Project Based Learning: 1492 Land Back Lane (LAWG-5933)
Project-based External Placements (PBEPs) are a component of Windsor Law’s experiential offerings, including the Externship Program and community-facing Supervised Research.  This menu of experiential opportunities shares an overarching commitment to, and analysis of, social justice.    

PBEPs are different from Externship Placements. They are directly responsive to community-identified needs. They are intended to be tailored to an emergent need identified by the community.   Placements will vary from term to term, and might include Indigenous communities, legal clinics, non-profit organizations, or non-governmental organizations. PBEPs will last for one semester.

Placements occur in a wide variety of law-related settings and will expose students to a range of competencies important for legal work. Placements share an overarching commitment to, and analysis of, the operation of access to justice. Student-specific competencies aligned with the learning outcomes are developed by the student, Placement Supervisor, Externship Director, or supervising Professors. Students are expected to develop a Learning Agreement describing these competencies and plan to meet them over the term. In addition, students complete a midterm and end-of-term evaluation. 

The work will be legal in nature. Students might complete a number of law related tasks such as legal research, legal drafting (such as memoranda, notes to file, etc.), observe lawyers litigate in court/ tribunals or during mediations and negotiations and/or meet with clients.  However, students may not give legal advice or legal opinions. Student-specific learning outcomes will be developed by the student, on-site placement supervisor and the academic supervisor.  Depending on the legal work, the placement supervisor is either a practicing lawyer or, in some cases, someone who has received legal training who works at the placement settings.  For the 2020 fall term, all work will be completed remotely. A socially distanced trip will be planned to attend Six Nations/1492 Landback Lane but the trip will be optional.

PBEP is open to students in their second or third year during either term.  There are no prerequisite courses. Student will reflect on the placement experience, its implications on communities’ experience of “justice” and the significance of collaboration with external parties and communities. Regular appointments will be scheduled between the student, placement supervisor and academic supervisor. An orientation, mid-term and debrief sessions will be scheduled with all students in PBEPs.  Students are permitted to enroll in one PBEP per academic year.

This placement course exposes students to real-world legal work in which they develop lawyering competencies and adapt to the various roles of a lawyer. Students will be given exposure to access to justice in practice and reflect on the nature and availability of justice in their specific placement context.  Placements will usually last for one term.  Students will be expected to develop a tailored Learning Agreement describing these competencies and plan to meet them over the term.   Students will work under the direct supervision of a lawyer.  Students will reflect on the placement experience, its implications on communities’ experience of “justice” and the significance of collaboration with external parties and communities. Students will be expected to abide by the Rules of Professional Conduct and will be required to maintain the confidences of placement clients (if any) at all times. 

Students will be working under the close supervision of Dr. Jacobs and Professor Rogin and will receive frequent feedback on assignments. Feedback and instruction may also derive from lawyers involved in advocating against threats to lands at 1492 Landback Lane.

Haudenosaunee Law Camp
This course is similar to the Anishinaabe Law camp in that it will be an intensive 4-day course to take place on the land at the Six Nations Grand River Territory.  Confirmation of this camp is in a consultation phase with the community and the administration of the law school at the present time.

More details of the camp to follow.

Indigenous Legal Orders Minor

A minor in Indigenous Legal Orders is available to students successfully completing (with a minimum of 60%) the 1L mandatory Indigenous Legal Orders course and at least five upper-year courses from a menu of courses - including those listed below - as well as courses approved by the Associate Dean (Academic) as meeting the criteria of having predominant Indigenous content and taught by an Indigenous scholar or Elder:

  • Aboriginal Law in Society - LAWG-5923
  • First Nations Women and the Law - LAWG-5823
  • Anishinabe Law Camp - LAWG-5995
  • Indigenous Peoples, Art and Human Rights - LAWG-5839
  • Kawaskimhon Moot - LAWG-5998
  • Child Protection/Indigenous Child Welfare - LAWG-5831
  • Reconciliation & The Residential School Legacy - LAWG-5835