Many of our faculty members actively engage in research in the area of Aboriginal law and policy. The research in this area undertaken at Robson Hall is varied and often includes engagement with Indigenous communities and other faculties on campus. These research projects have provided many opportunities for students including paid summer work as Research Assistants. As well, faculty members researching in this area may be available for LLM supervision.
Indigenous legal research
Current Research and Dissemination
Members of our faculty have actively engaged in research in the area of Indigenous legal research for a number of years. The research in this area that has been undertaken at Robson Hall is varied and often includes engagement with Indigenous communities and other faculties on campus. These research projects have provided many opportunities for students including paid summer work as Research Assistants. As well, faculty members researching in this area may be available for LLM supervision.
Indigenous Peoples and the Criminal Justice System
Indigenous Peoples and the Criminal Justice System
In 2019, UM Law started offering an annual series of workshops in collaboration with practicing professional lawyers Melissa Serbin and Stacey Soldier, called “Indigenous Peoples and the Criminal Justice System.” These workshops were open to law students, articling students, and members of the Manitoba practicing bar, and counted towards CPD credits. Their objective was to assist students and lawyers in learning about Indigenous cultures and understanding the interplay between Indigenous legal orders and the Canadian legal system. In this manner, these workshops addressed both CTA #27 and #28.
Implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Community Legal Education: Implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Professor Brenda Gunn (currently on leave to serve as the Director of Research at the NCTR), has been the momentum behind initiatives to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In January, 2019, she led the organization of Kiskinohamatowin: An International Academic Forum on the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples (pdf), held at Robson Hall. Please read the Report from that Forum online.
Through Professor Gunn, the UM Faculty of Law, joined together with the Indigenous Bar Association on a previous project entitled “Implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canada.” This project was funded by the Law for the Future Fund of the Canadian Bar Association.
The project’s main objective was to raise awareness among Indigenous communities and broader Canadian society, of the standards set out in the UN Declaration and how to apply these standards in Canada. A 36-page handbook on implementing the UN Declaration was published and has been distributed to Indigenous communities, lawyers, judges, human rights organizations and educators. It is available online as Understanding and Implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: An Introductory Handbook (pdf).
Truth and Reconciliation: Prairie Conversations
The Faculty was an engaged local partner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s first national event held in Winnipeg June 2010, organizing an interdisciplinary conference. Twenty-five law student volunteers were on hand for the duration of the event to provide legal information and help to anyone who wanted to learn more about Aboriginal law.
Right to Water
Professor Karen Busby, former Director of the Centre for Human Rights Research, has led research projects related to the human right to drinking water and sanitation.
Implementing Gladue in Manitoba
Former University of Manitoba law professors David Milward and Debra Parkes worked with colleagues, students, and members of the Manitoba bench and bar to improve Manitoba’s implementation of the Gladue decision on Aboriginal sentencing. The Gladue project was designed to address the over-representation of Indigenous people in the criminal justice system.
In March 2011, they organized the symposium Implementing Gladue: Law & Policy 20 Years After the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry.
The Report of the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry of Manitoba, found that “The justice system has failed Manitoba’s Aboriginal people on a massive scale. It has been insensitive and inaccessible, and has arrested and imprisoned Aboriginal people in grossly disproportionate numbers.” The 1998 decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in Gladue set out a framework for the sentencing of Aboriginal people meant to address what Parliament and the court recognized as a crisis of overrepresentation.
Gladue Handbook (pdf)
The Gladue Handbook, intended as a resource for lawyers, judges and other justice system participants was launched in September 2012 in Winnipeg.
Aboriginal Law Collection at the E.K. Williams Library
The E.K. Williams Library at the University of Manitoba Faculty of Law houses the most wide-ranging collection of materials on Aboriginal Law and related issues in the country. In the 1980s the government of Manitoba commissioned the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry (AJI) which was the most exhaustive study of the justice system in relation to aboriginal persons ever undertaken.
The AJI created a hugely significant collection of over 1,200 items comprised of government reports, various studies, and unpublished papers in areas such as self-government, land claims, police, aboriginal courts and sentencing practices, etc. Most of the material is Canadian and North American, but there are also instructive items from countries such as Australia and New Zealand. The collection also includes the materials related to the conduct and findings of the Inquiry such as the transcripts of the community hearings, summaries of the 790 presentations to made to the AJI and the final reports of the Commission.
This expansive collection of materials was donated to the E.K. Williams Library in 1991 and has been integrated into its collection. Subsequently the library has made a concerted effort to build upon this foundation by collecting comprehensively in the area of Aboriginal Law and Justice making the library’s collection on this important topic second to none in Canada.
Currently, library staff has curated an Aboriginal Law Study Guide, which is a collection of resources including essential textbooks, notable cases, treaties, and more. This Study Guide will be useful for anyone looking to flesh out their research strategy.
Relevant Distinguished Visitor Lectures
- Al Benoit: "Manitoba 150 - The Unfinished Business of Reconciliation." (Mar 18, 2021)
- Dr. Megan Davis: "the Right to Indigenous Self-determination." (Feb. 4, 2021)
- Erika Yamada: "Implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples from a Latin American perspective." (Jan. 17, 2019)
- CHRR Gandhi Peace Award 2018 - Professor Cindy Blackstock (Oct. 11, 2018)
- First Nations Water Conference 2018 (series) (May 17-18, 2018)
- Jean Teillet: Writing the History of Riel’s People (March 6, 2018)
- 4th Annual First Nations Water Research Conference (series) (June 1-2, 2017)
- 2nd Annual Create H2O Water Conference 2015 (series) (June 1, 2015)
- Between Keewatin and Tsilhqot’in: Reflections from the Centre of Turtle Island (series) (Nov. 21-22, 2014)
- 1st Annual Create H2O Water Conference 2014 (series) (June 25-26, 2014)
- Tom Berger: The Manitoba MÉTIS Decision and the uses of History (Nov. 13, 2013)
- Jacinta Ruru - The Constitutional Indigenous Jurisprudence in Aotearoa New Zealand (Oct. 23, 2012)
- Implementing Gladue: Law and Policy 20 Years After the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry (series) (March 17, 2011)
- Jennifer Llewellyn: Reconciling the Work of the TRC (Jan 27, 2010)
- Merrell-Anne Phare: Denying the Source: The Crisis of First Nation Water Rights (March 18, 2010)
- The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, “Louis Riel: Patriot Rebel” (October 28, 2010)
- Justice Murray Sinclair: The Role of Law in Indian Residential Schools (Nov. 15, 2010)
- Justice Murray Sinclair: They Came for the Children (Sept. 21, 2009)
- John Borrows: Canada’s Indigenous Constitution: Living Traditions and Human Rights (Jan. 26, 2009)
- Dean Kathryn Rand and Dr. Steven Light: Two Decades of Tribal Gaming Law in the United States (Nov. 19, 2009)
Research Chairs and Centres
Legal Research Institute
The Legal Research Institute was created to:
- stimulate and facilitate legal research by academics at the Faculty of Law and within the University of Manitoba
- facilitate interdisciplinary contacts and collaboration
- provide research funding
- develop and refine student research skills and capacities
- coordinate the hiring of research assistants for projects
- undertake commissioned research for any provincial or national law reform commissions
- sponsor conferences, workshops, and seminars on law-related topics
- encourage the communication of research results by supporting publication of research findings
- give publicity to the research activities of academic staff
The work of the LRI is divided into two categories. First, the LRI directly engages in various research projects, holds seminars and conferences, and supports various publications. Second, the LRI receives applications from individual professors and graduate students, mostly from the Faculty of Law, and supports research projects by granting funds, most often to hire student research assistants.
Applicants must follow the application process as stipulated in the application and provide full information where asked or the application may not be considered.
Guidelines governing the awarding of LRI grants
The following guidelines govern the awarding of LRI grants:
- demonstrated scholarly record or evidence of scholarly potential
- legal or socio-legal nature of the research
- Manitoba-basis of the research, either by virtue of the scholar’s location or focus of research
- satisfactory use of any prior LRI grants
- encouragement and support of research of pre-tenure applicants
Please note the following restrictions:
- teaching assistance or preparation of materials is not funded
- each research project will only be funded once
All successful applicants must report to the LRI within 6 months of project completion and all LRI-funded research must be acknowledged in any resulting publications.
Any research involving human subjects requires the approval of the Research Ethics Board, a university-based ethics review body.
Under the auspices of the Legal Research Institute students may work as research assistants to professors during the summer or term.
Students also have the opportunity to work as editors of the Journals for Robson Hall’s scholarly publications. It is a great honour to be selected for the editorial boards of these publications and provides academically oriented students with excellent hands-on experience working with renowned scholars.
The Faculty of Law boasts a vibrant research community where Faculty members’ research is well-respected and published internationally, nationally, and locally. The Faculty publishes a number of highly-regarded academic legal research journals edited by some of the most prolific legal researchers in Western Canada.
The Marcel A. Desautels Centre
The mandate of The Marcel A. Desautels Centre for Private Enterprise and the Law is to integrate the disciplines of law, business and the humanities as they apply to family-controlled and other private enterprises, the principal foundation of all economic activity in Canada. The focus on private enterprise, rather than public corporations, and a multi-disciplinary approach to understanding business people, as well as their businesses, makes the Centre unique for a Canadian law school.
Through the Centre’s academic programs, students are trained, develop the necessary skills, and acquire relevant perspectives to address, in a holistic manner, issues faced by these enterprises and their owners at all stages of the private business life cycle, from conception through growth and development, to maturity, succession and disposition.
The Centre also promotes research in these multi-faceted and complex issues, provides service to the business community through the L. Kerry Vickar Business Law Clinic, supports specialized graduate education, and serves as a resource to members of the legal profession.