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Indigenous Legal Research

Canadian Indigenous Law

Aboriginal / Indigenous Canadians comprise 4.9 % of Canada's population of 35 million (2016 figures - source: Wikipedia). There are three major groups: First Nations (or Indians), Inuit and Métis. There are over 630 First Nations in Canada (over 1.6 million people), about 53 Inuit communities (65,000 people) and about 400,000 Metis people.

  • More information on Aboriginal groups and communities
  • Interactive Maps and profiles of Aboriginal groups and communities
  • See the Library of Congress Indigenous Law Portal: Canada for general resources for Canadian Indigenous Legal Research and for links to 'tribes' by region, province and alphabetically. For each tribe, there are links to their websites and other information.
  • For information on the definitions of Aboriginal people in Canadian legislation and the Constitution, see  Halsbury's Laws of Canada on Lexis Advance Pacific (UniMelb staff & student access), Canadian Aboriginal Law, Part V (Aboriginal People), Chapter 1 (Legal Recognition).

Canadian Aboriginal law includes customary law, Canadian government law that specifically affects aboriginal people only, and also the interaction of customary law with the common and statute law of Canada. Aboriginal people are subject to the general law of the land, together with other Canadians, unless there is some Aboriginal treaty or other provision affording special protection. If a law conflicts with Aboriginal lifestyle or culture, and there is no special protection, the courts will apply that law to Aboriginal people.

For a brief introduction, see Law of Indigenous Peoples in Canada on the open access Canadian Encyclopedia.

For a succinct summary of Canadian Indigenous law, legal history and the place of Canadian Aboriginal law within the contemporary Canadian legal system, see the Historical and Legal Background chapters in the Aboriginal Law section of Halsbury's Laws of Canada on Lexis Advance Pacific (UniMelb staff & student access).

See also the sections on Native Peoples and Native Rights in the Canadian Law chapter in the following encyclopaedia: