Indigenous Rights as Colonialism: UNDRIP and Canada’s Constitution


Chancellor Day Hall Maxwell Cohen Moot Court (NCDH 100), 3644 rue Peel, Montreal, QC, H3A 1W9, CA

The Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism has the pleasure of welcoming Professor John Borrows for the 2018 John Humphrey Lecture in Human Rights. His talk is titled Indigenous Rights as Colonialism: UNDRIP and Canada’s Constitution.


This lecture will examine how recent Supreme Court of Canada decisions reproduce colonialism by implication. Aboriginal and treaty rights are continually diminished by assuming Crown sovereignty is paramount, allowing the Crown to define its entitlements, permitting adjudicators to uphold these entitlements, and applying this logic in subsequent cases. This talk will consider the role of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in addressing this issue.

About the speaker

Professor John Borrows is Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Law at the University of Victoria Law School. He is currently a Distinguished Tomlinson Visiting Professor at McGill's Faculty of Law, in residence for the 2017-2018 university year.

Borrows teaches in the area of Constitutional Law, Indigenous Law, and Environmental Law. His publications include Recovering Canada; The Resurgence of Indigenous Law (Donald Smiley Award for the best book in Canadian Political Science, 2002); Canada's Indigenous Constitution (Canadian Law and Society Best Book Award 2011); and Drawing Out Law: A Spirit's Guide (2010), all from the University of Toronto Press.

Borrows is a recipient an Aboriginal Achievement Award in Law and Justice, a Fellow of the Trudeau Foundation, and a Fellow of the Academy of Arts, Humanities and Sciences of Canada (RSC), Canada's highest academic honour, and a 2012 recipient of the Indigenous Peoples Counsel from the Indigenous Bar Association, for honour and integrity in service to Indigenous communities. He is Anishinabe/Ojibway and a member of the Chippewa of the Nawash First Nation in Ontario, Canada.

About the Humphrey Lectures

The John P. Humphrey Lectureship in Human Rights is an annual lecture on the theme of the role of International Law and Organization in the world-wide protection of Human Rights. The lecture was founded in 1988 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the drafting of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in recognition of the leadership of John P. Humphrey (BCL 1928) in the elaboration, drafting, and promotion of the Declaration.

Back to top