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Brenda L. Gunn, Professor Robson Hall Faculty of Law. She has a B.A. from the University of Manitoba and a J.D. from the University of Toronto.  She completed her LL.M. in Indigenous Peoples Law & Policy at the University of Arizona. She articled with Sierra Legal Defence Fund (now Ecojustice Canada). She was called to the bars of Law Society of Upper Canada and Manitoba. Brenda also worked at a community legal clinic in Rabinal, Guatemala on a case of genocide submitted to the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights. She has also worked with First Nations on Aboriginal and treaty rights issues in Manitoba. As a proud Metis woman, she continues to combine her academic research with her activism pushing for greater recognition of Indigenous peoples’ inherent rights as determined by Indigenous peoples’ own legal traditions. Her current research focuses on promoting greater conformity between international law on the rights of Indigenous peoples and domestic law.  She continues to be actively involved in the international Indigenous peoples’ movement, regularly attending international meetings, including the review of Canada before CERD.  She provided technical assistance to the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the analysis and drafting of the report summarizing the responses on the survey on implementing the UN Declaration.   She developed a handbook on understanding and implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples that is quickly becoming one of the main resources in Canada on the UN Declaration and has delivered workshops on the Declaration across Canada and internationally.  In 2013, she participated in the UNITAR Training Programme to Enhance the Conflict Prevention and Peacemaking Capacities of Indigenous Peoples’ Representatives, which continues to impact her research.

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Research Areas

    • Advocating for the Rights of Indigenous People in International Law
    • Constitutional Law
    • International Law
    • Metis People and Canadian Law

Selected Publications

Publications by Year

*Indicates peer-reviewed publications.

  • *Brenda Gunn, “The Federal Court Aboriginal Bar Liaison Committee as a Mode of Reconciliation”, in Renewing Relationships: Indigenous Peoples and Canada, eds Karen Drake and Brenda Gunn (Saskatoon, Native Law Center: 2018), 309-337, in press.
  • *Brenda Gunn, “Exploring the International Character of Treaties 1–11 and the Legal Consequences” in Oonagh Fitzgerald, Valerie Hughes and Mark Jewett, eds (Centre for International Governance Innovation, Waterloo: 2018) 111-129.
  • *Brenda Gunn and Bryn Rieger, “A Métis Treaty Through the Lens of International Law” (2017) 7 Aboriginal Policy Studies, 4-25.
  • *Brenda Gunn, “Human Rights Based Approach to the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry,” (2017) 2:2 Lakehead Law Journal 88-115.
  • *Brenda Gunn, “Beyond Van der Peet: Bringing Together International, Indigenous and Constitutional Law” in UNDRIP Implementation: Braiding International, Domestic and Indigenous Law (Centre for International Governance Innovation, Waterloo: 2017) 29-37.
  • Brenda Gunn, “The legal system has harmed indigenous women enough – make it the focus of the inquiry,” opinion, Globe and Mail, August 7, 2016.
  • Brenda Gunn and Alex Neve, “Canada comes up short at UN review of human-rights issues,” opinion, Globe and Mail, February 26, 2016.
  • Brenda Gunn, “UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Reconciliation” in Wrongs to Rights: in search of healing, Steve Heinrichs, ed (Winnipeg, Mennonite Church Canada, 2016).
  • 2016, Aboriginal Legal Services NGO Submission to Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women on Canada’s periodic review.
  • 2016, Indigenous Bar Association in Canada NGO Submission to Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on Canada’s 8th and 9th Periodic Review.
  • *Brenda Gunn, “Defining Métis People as a People: Moving Beyond the Indian/Métis Dichotomy,” (2015) 38(2) Dalhousie Law Journal 413-446.
  • *Brenda Gunn, “Moving Beyond Rhetoric: Achieving Reconciliation Through Fulfillment of Indigenous Peoples’ Right to Self-Determination,” (2015) 38(1) Dalhousie Law Journal 237-270.
  • 2015, “Summary of responses to the questionnaire seeking the views of States and Indigenous Peoples on best practices regarding possible appropriate measures and implementation strategies to attain the goals of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” provided technical assistance and drafted Report of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous People, UN Doc A/HRC/30/54, 17 August 2015.
  • *Brenda Gunn, “Self-Determination and Indigenous Women: Legitimacy through Inclusion,” (2014) 26(2) Canadian Journal of Women and the Law 241-275.
  • *Brenda Gunn, “Getting it Right: The Canadian Constitution and International Indigenous Rights,” in Indivisible: Indigenous Human Rights, Joyce Green, ed (Vancouver, Fernwood Publishing: 2014).
  • *Brenda Gunn, “Overcoming Obstacles to Implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canada,” (2013) 31:1 Windsor Yearbook of Access to Justice 147-174.
  • *Brenda Gunn, “More than Money: Using International Law of Reparations to Determine Fair Compensation for Infringements of Aboriginal Title,” (2013) 46:2 UBC Law Review 299-348.
  • *Brenda Gunn, “Protecting Indigenous Peoples’ Lands: Making Room for the Application of Indigenous Peoples’ Laws within the Canadian Legal System,” (2007) 6.1 Indigenous Law Journal 31-69.
  • *Brenda Gunn, “Impacts of The North American Free Trade Agreement on Indigenous Peoples and Their Interests,” (2006) 9 Balayi: Culture, Law and Colonialism 5-25.
  • *S. Brennan, B. Gunn, G. Williams, “‘Sovereignty’ and Treaty-Making Between Indigenous Peoples and Australian Governments,” (2004) 26.3 Sydney Law Review 307-352.

Community Involvement

  • Indigenous Bar Association
  • Canadian Bar Association/Manitoba Bar Association


  • University of Manitoba Annual Outreach Award – 2014/15
  • University of Manitoba Merit Award – 2015