Indigenous Initiatives


Several members of our faculty have extensive research and teaching expertise in Indigenous legal issues.

Catherine Bell

Catherine Bell specializes in Indigenous rights, access to justice, cultural heritage law, collaborative research and ethics. She teaches Canadian Aboriginal rights law, alternative dispute resolution and property law and developed and oversees UAlberta Law’s Low Income Clinical Law Program and the Aboriginal Justice Externship on Gladue Sentencing Principles. She has helped develop and deliver Indigenous legal education programs across Canada, including the Program of Legal Studies for Native People (University of Saskatchewan), the Akitsiraq Law Program (Nunavut) and the Banff Centre for Management’s Aboriginal Leadership and Self-Government Program.

Bell is widely published and has worked in collaboration with (and as an adviser to) Indigenous, provincial, national and international government bodies and organizations. Her work on Métis constitutional rights and the Métis settlements has influenced Métis law and policy in Canada.

In 2012, Bell was awarded the Canadian Bar Association’s Ramon John Hnatyshyn Governor General’s Gold Medal in recognition of her outstanding contributions to law and legal education in Canada. She is also the co- recipient of a prestigious Major Collaborative Research Initiative (MCRI) on Indigenous Rights and Intangible Cultural Heritage and a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Insight Grant exploring Métis constitutional rights and treaties.

Hadley Friedland

Hadley Friedland joined the faculty as a visiting assistant professor in 2016 and assistant professor in 2017. Her research focuses on Indigenous laws, Aboriginal law, criminal justice, family and child welfare law and therapeutic jurisprudence. She has published numerous articles and collaborated to produce accessible Indigenous legal resources for Indigenous communities, legal professionals and the general public.

Friedland holds a Child and Youth Care diploma (with distinction) from MacEwan University, an LLB from the University of Victoria, and an LLM and PhD from the University of Alberta. She was called to the Alberta Bar in 2010. She was the first Research Director of the Indigenous Law Research Unit [ILRU] at the University of Victoria Faculty of Law and is co-creator, with Dr. Val Napoleon, of the ILRU methodology. She has worked extensively with Indigenous communities across Canada to identify and articulate their own laws.

Friedland’s research has won several awards, including the prestigious Vanier Scholarship and the inaugural SSHRC Impact Talent Award. Her PhD dissertation, Reclaiming the Language of Law: The Contemporary Articulation and Application of Cree Legal Principles in Canada, was awarded the Governor General Gold Medal. Her first book, The Wetiko (Windigo) Legal Principles: Cree and Anishinabek Responses to Violence and Victimization has recently been released by the University of Toronto Press.

Joshua Nichols

Joshua Nichols holds a PhD in Law from the University of Victoria, for which his dissertation was entitled "Reconciliation and the Foundations of Aboriginal Law in Canada." A monograph based on this work is to be published this year by the University of Toronto Press. He is also co-editor of a volume being published by University of Toronto Press entitled "Indigenous Economic Development and Self-Determination: Wise Practices in Indigenous Law, Governance and Leadership in British Columbia and Beyond."

Nichols holds a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Toronto, for which his dissertation was entitled "The Mark of the State: Reading the Writing of 'Right' in Hegel's Political Philosophy. His JD is from the University of British Columbia.

He has a Research Fellowship at the Centre for International Governance Innovation’s International Law Research Program and is co-investigator and Working Group Chair of Policy Innovation for a $2.5M SSHRC Partnership Grant entitled "Decolonizing Water: Building Resilient Water Futures."

Originally from Treaty 8 territory in northeastern British Columbia (he is Métis), Nichols’ research interests include Indigenous governance, international law and governance, plurinational federalism, constitutional law and the history of political thought.

Darcy Lindberg

Darcy Lindberg, currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Victoria Faculty of Law, will join the Faculty as an assistant professor in 2019.

Lindberg’s doctoral research focuses on the constitutional and legal theory of Plains Cree peoples in relation to the land, water and animals, and the transsystemic relationships with Canadian constitutional law.

Lindberg earned his LLM at the University of Victoria; his thesis explored Cree legal orders through an examination of ceremonial rules of procedure and the transformation of gendered protocols. His article "Transforming Buffalo: Plains Cree Constitutionalism and Food Sovereignty," will be published in a forthcoming collection on food law in Canada.

Lindberg, who is Plains Cree is engaged with Cree communities and is also involved in describing and applying Indigenous law "to improve Cree and other First Nations relationships with land and waters in Treaty 4 and 6 territories."

He is a participant in the University of British Columbia Indigenous Water Governance Project, amongst other ongoing research activities and relationships.

His prior experiences include work with Davis LLP in Whitehorse as an articling student and associate lawyer, and as training facilitator with Alberta's Future Leaders Program, an Indigenous-focused youth program that he has been involved with for almost 15 years.