Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Canada: International law obligations to suspend construction of pipeline and stop use of force against Wet’suwet’en | Legal Brief

16 March 2020 – Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada published a legal brief summarizing Canada’s international law obligations to comply with a 2019 UN decision calling for the immediate suspension of the Coastal GasLink Pipeline project. LRWC’s report summarizes the Decision of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) calling on Canada to take measures to fulfill Canada’s binding international law duties under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The report also discusses Canada’s obligations to guarantee the rights to property, equality and non-discrimination for Indigenous Peoples in the Inter-American human rights system. See the full legal brief.


2012 to 2015

From 2012 to 2015, Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada, in collaboration with Amnesty International Canada, the Hul’qumi’num Treaty Group, the Vancouver Public Library and others, has hosted the speaker series First Nations’ Rights: The Gap Between Law and Practice. This series was created to provide free, public education on Indigenous people’s rights, both under domestic and international law. Videos, podcasts of these talks along with some accompanying power points are available here.

Justice for Children, Jan 15/15

Dr. Cindy Blackstock’s talk to an overflow audience of about 200 at the Vancouver POLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAublic Library on 15 January 2015 was informative and inspiring. She reviewed the difficult six-year course of The First Nations Child and Family Caring Society and the Assembly of First Nations v. Canada (FNCFCS & ASN v. Canada) complaint before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. Watch the video.

The Right to Say No Feb 20/14



Dr. Judith Sayers is a Professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Victoria. She has served as Chief of the Hupacasath Nation, in the political executive of the First Nations Summit and as a member of the Leadership Council of BC. Dr. Sayers examined some court cases (Hupacasath and Mikisew Cree) challenging trade agreements and legislation that compromise the right of First Nations to consultation and consent on issues affecting habitats, water, lands and resources, child welfare and education. Dr. Sayers, a member of the Hupacasath Nation, has worked nationally and internationally to protect the rights of First Nations.

Consent or Consultation: Examining the Conflict   Jan 30/2014

ChiefJohn3The Supreme Court of Canada recognizes the duty to consult First Nations on issues affecting their rights.  The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples recognizes the right to free, prior and informed consent. Grand Chief Edward John will examine this conflict between Canadian and international law. Grand Chief John is a lawyer, Hereditary Chief of Tl’azt’en Nation and the North American Representative to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Chief John has two honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the Universities of Northern B.C. and Victoria.

Savage Anxieties – The Invention of Western Civilization ; Indigenous Rights and the Hul’qumi’num Treaty Group case May 9/13

Robert A. WilliamsProfessor Robert Williams explores justifications for conquest, war, acts of racist violence and colonial dispossession from the time of the ancient Greeks to 21st Century treaty negotiations and introduces his book, Savage Anxieties – The Invention of Western Civilization. Prof. Williams is the author of several books, the recipient of many awards and is member of the Lumbee Indian Tribe of North Carolina.

Indigenous Law as a Solution to Resource Conflict February 28/13

caleb_behn_poster-new-page-001Caleb Behn examines the conflict generated by fracking in Treaty 8 in northeastern BC and explains the potential of indigenous laws and legal traditions to ensure preservation of the environment as a condition of energy development and to effect reconciliation. Mr. Behn is Eh-Cho Dene and Dunne Za/Cree from the Treaty 8 Territory and holds a J.D.

Debunking the Doctrine of Discovery January 24/13

UVic event - Robert_MoralesRobert Morales, lawyer and chief negotiator for the Hul’qumi’num Treaty Group unveils the continuing effects of this archaic doctrine used to justify the seizure of lands and oppression of peoples. Robert is Coast Salish and a member of the Cowichan Tribes. Watch the video: learn from the power point.

First Nations’ own laws and legal systems May 17/12

Sarah Morales Talk PosterSarah Morales explains Coast Salish legal traditions—snuw’uyulh—and the displacement of those laws during and after the colonial period. She examines the concept of legal pluralism and the potential for such a system today in Canada. Sarah is Coast Salish, a member of Cowichan Tribes and an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa. Watch the video.

Remember the children: What a landmark human rights case tells us about discrimination and justice in Canada April 24/12
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACindy Blackstock, Executive Director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, explains the legal action against the Canadian government to end the discriminatory practice of providing significantly less funding for social services to help First Nations children living on reserves. Dr. Blackstock is an associate professor at the University of Alberta and member of the Gitksan Nation of northern BC. Watch the video.

UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People-Indigenous rights in the UN system March 19/12
Kenneth DeerKenneth Deer of the Mohawk Nation at Kahnawake, is a journalist and educator, internationally recognized for promoting the recognition and protection of Indigenous Peoples’ rights. Kenneth Deer explains the 25-year development of UNDRIP, why Indigenous Peoples went to the UN, the obstacles they faced, Canada’s involvement and whether the declaration is binding on states. Watch the video and learn from the power point.

Seeking Justice Elsewhere- The Hul’qumi’num Treaty Group land claim case before the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights February 23/12
Robert Morales addresses indigenous rights in the context of the 1884 unlawful seizure and privatization of Hul’qumi’num peoples’ land on Vancouver Island, the serious consequences for Hul’qumi’num survival and cultural integrity and the history of unsuccessful negotiations that led the Hul’qumi’num people to seek justice elsewhere. Watch the video.

Ghost Dancing with Colonialism January 12/12
GraceWoo2011Dr. Grace Woo, legal historian and author of Ghost Dancing with Colonialism: Decolonization and Indigenous Rights at the Supreme Court of Canada examines whether the Supreme Court of Canada is colonizing Indigenous peoples by examining Anglo-Canadian legal history, international law and Supreme Court of Canada decisions. Watch the video.


Indigenous Rights Law Talks | Video Collection
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