Aboriginal and Indigenous Law

Uniting our nation's past and future

Aboriginal and Indigenous law intersects with almost every other area of the law in Canada. As we work toward reconciliation and Indigenous self-governance, the needs and aspirations of Indigenous communities continue to grow in scope and complexity and it is crucial for legal professionals to have a background in this area.

At Schulich Law, Aboriginal and Indigenous law is an integral part of our curriculum. Our long-standing Indigenous Blacks and Mi'kmaq Initiative gives us connections to the Indigenous community and we have a dedicated Chancellor's Chair in Aboriginal Law and Policy. All of our first-year students take the mandatory Aboriginal & Indigenous Law in Context course, and will now have the opportunity to build on that foundation through our Aboriginal and Indigenous Law specialization.

Specialize in Aboriginal and Indigenous Law

We are committed to providing a broad, critical, well-rounded and practical educational experience to students studying Aboriginal and Indigenous law. Our course offerings include both large and small group classes that combine lectures, discussions, and active learning techniques. 

Our Aboriginal and Indigenous Law Specialization gives JD students at Schulich School of Law an opportunity to focus on this area, and earn a certificate upon graduation. 

Students must complete and return the registration form  to AandILaw@dal.ca .

Specialization Requirements

To qualify for the certificate, students are required to complete:

Students must also earn an additional 3 credits by successfully completing one or more of our existing Aboriginal or Indigenous law classes. These include:

The additional 3 credits may also be satisfied by a major research paper written in a course not listed above as long as it involves serious engagement with an Aboriginal law or Indigenous Law topic and is approved by the TRC Committee. (The approval process involves the student submitting a copy of the paper proposal to AandILaw@dal.ca to obtain pre-approval from the TRC Committee.  Once the paper has been completed a copy of the final paper must be submitted for final approval.  The TRC Committee will determine whether the proposed paper, and then the actual paper, have sufficient Aboriginal and Indigenous law content to qualify.)

Any current student who has already completed the requirements for the certificate (or some of them), can declare the certificate up until the point of the cut-off for graduation.

For questions about the Aboriginal and Indigenous Law specialization, please contact the program coordinator Professor Naiomi Metallic at AandILaw@dal.ca

     NOTE: Only those courses pursued at the Schulich School of Law during the student's JD studies which lead to successful completion of a Dalhousie University JD degree will be recognized.  Students are not permitted to count a course towards more than one certificate.

A student perspective


The study of Aboriginal and Indigenous law allows students to gain a crucial perspective into Indigenous legal issues and their intertwined relationship with Canadian history."

"Providing students with this lens will give Canada’s future lawyers the ability to learn from history and allow them to do better in order to create a brighter future for Aboriginal and Indigenous people.”


Experiential Learning

Our students have many opportunities to engage with the community, and get practical experience:

  • Third-year students have the opportunity to participate in the Kawaskimhon Aboriginal Rights Moot.
  • As part of the Aboriginal and Indigenous Law in Context course, first year students participate in a blanket exercise and group presentations.
  • Directed research and major paper courses can provide an opportunity for students to work with Indigenous communities by researching and responding to important issues.

A faculty perspective


Achieving a mutual respectful relationship between Indigenous peoples and Canada, and equitable sharing of jurisdiction, land and resources are key challenges facing our country."

"The law plays a fundamental role in these dynamics and can serve both as a tool for oppression as well as a tool for positive change. At this point in our nation's history, future lawyers must understand as well as their roles and responsibilities in addressing these challenges."


Our Faculty

Schulich Law's Aboriginal and Indigenous Law faculty members are world renowned experts in their field. Students have the opportunity to work one-on-one with professors who are passionately devoted to mentoring students.

Associate Professor of Law and Associate Dean Research
Topics:  Property and land law, Food and agricultural law, Local government law, Law, economics and political economy, Access to justice
Email: jamie.baxter@dal.ca
Phone: 902-494-7113
Mailing Address: 
Room 326, Weldon Law Building, 6061 University Avenue
PO Box 15000 Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4R2
Professor of Law
Topics:  Ethics and Professional Responsibility, Contracts, Critical Theory, Jurisprudence, Regulation Theory
Email: richard.devlin@dal.ca
Phone: 902-494-1014
Mailing Address: 
Room 430, Weldon Law Building, 6061 University Avenue
PO Box 15000 Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4R2
Associate Professor of Law, Criminal Justice Certificate Coordinator
Topics:  Prison Law & Prisoners’ Rights, Criminal Law & Criminal Justice, Sentencing, Evidence, Charter Rights
Email: aiftene@dal.ca
Phone: 902-494-1296
Mailing Address: 
Room 427, Weldon Law Building
6061 University Avenue
PO Box 15000
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4R2
Professor of Law | Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine (cross-appointment)
Topics:  Criminal Law and Procedure, Mental Disability
Email: archie.kaiser@dal.ca
Phone: 902-494-1003
Mailing Address: 
Room 421, Weldon Law Building, 6061 University Avenue
PO Box 15000 Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4R2
Professor of Law
Topics:  Health law and policy, Indigenous health governance, Immigration and refugee law
Email: constance.macintosh@dal.ca
Phone: 902-494-3554
Mailing Address: 
Room 319, Weldon Law Building, 6061 University Avenue
PO Box 15000 Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4R2
Assistant Professor of Law
Email: andrew.martin@dal.ca
Phone: 902-494-1027
Mailing Address: 
Room 419, Weldon Law Building
6061 University Avenue
PO Box 15000
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4R2
Associate Professor of Law; Chancellor's Chair in Aboriginal Law and Policy, Aboriginal Law Certificate Coordinator
Topics:  Aboriginal law, Indigenous law, Constitutional law, Administrative law, Equality and human rights law, Diversity in legal education, the legal profession, and the judiciary
Email: naiomi.metallic@dal.ca
Phone: 902-494-4500
Mailing Address: 
Room 314, Weldon Law Building, Dalhousie University 6061 University Avenue Halifax, NS B3H 4R2
Associate Professor of Law and Management; Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Governance (Tier 2)
Topics:  Mi’kmaw & Indigenous Land and Water-Based Governance, Indigenous Food Systems, Indigenous Women’s Political Life, Rights and Activism, Treaty Relations and Rights, Mi’kmaw & Indigenous Land-Based Learning Practices, Decolonization & Resurgence, Multi-scalar Indigenous Peoples’ Movements, Indigenous & Small-Scale Fisheries Movements
Email: sherry.pictou@dal.ca
Phone: (902) 494-4092
Mailing Address: 
Room 323, Weldon Law Building, 6061 University Avenue
PO Box 15000 Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4R2


Career Paths

Aboriginal and Indigenous Law is a growing area. With Indigenous groups exercising greater jurisdiction over their affairs and enforcing their own Indigenous laws, legal professionals with an understanding of this area are in high demand. Many law firms in Canada have Aboriginal law practice groups who advise not only Indigenous groups and organizations, but businesses, organizations, individuals and governments interacting with Indigenous peoples. Government departments and agencies, federal, provincial and municipal, regularly interact with Indigenous groups and organizations and require legal advice in this regard. Graduates may also work with Indigenous groups and organizations as in-house counsel.