Indigenous Research Assignment

Indigenous and Aboriginal law interacts significantly with environmental law and policy. The recently enacted Bill C-15, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, proposes to review and revise Canada’s laws in order to be consistent with UNDRIP. In its 2015 Final Report, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada called on law schools to:


require all law students to take a course in Aboriginal people and the law, which includes the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal-Crown relations. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.

Trent University now has an Indigenous Course Requirement [ICR]. While this course is not one of the approved Indigenous content courses, it is nonetheless important for environmental law students to have familiarity with this field.  As the University’s website explains:

In March 2017, the Senate of Trent University approved the Special Committee on Indigenous Education Report that recommended the creation of a requirement for all undergraduate students to have a foundational understanding of the history, traditions, cultures, and knowledge of Indigenous peoples. [see:]

For this assignment, students will review local Treaties and the 2020 court decision on the Trans Mountain Pipeline relating to Indigenous matters. Students will review and comment on these documents in a 2-3 page, single-spaced report. This assignment is worth 10% of the course mark and shall be uploaded by students to the Blackboard page on or before October 22, 2021.

The following are required assignment components [please do both]:

  1. Review the 1818 Rice Lake and 1923 Williams Treaties applicable to the traditional territory on which Trent University stands. Briefly identify the Indigenous community involved, its name, its general geographical territory, the name of its language, and a few sentences on what is covered in both the Treaties.
  2. Review paragraphs 37-81of the decision [Coldwater Indian Band et al. Attorney General of Canada et al., 2020 FCA 34] dealing with Indigenous consultation. Summarize this aspect of the case, including the court that decided it and the case’s key conclusions and significance. Also provide your own comments on the case, such as: your personal reactions to and reflections on the case, how well the case dealt with the real issues and background involved, how it might relate to environmental law, and/or whether it reflected a sound and fair approach.

Assignment Resources:

1818 [Rice Lake] Treaty [on Blackboard]; 1923 Williams Treaty [on Blackboard]

Coldwater Indian Band et al. v. Attorney General of Canada et al., 2020 FCA 34 [on Blackboard]

Aboriginal law 101 [on Blackboard]

Ontario treaties background:

Treaty texts:


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