PhD candidate Lindsay Borrows hired for tenure-track position at Queen’s Law

Specialist in Indigenous legal traditions and land-based learning appointed as assistant professor

Sarah Kent - 03 November 2021

Lindsay Keegitah Borrows, a PhD candidate at the University of Alberta Faculty of Law who specializes in Indigenous legal traditions, has been appointed as an assistant professor at Queen’s University Faculty of Law.

She will take up the position on July 1, 2022.

“This faculty opportunity at Queen's means I'll get to encourage and support students to follow their passions,” said Borrows. “Many people entering Canadian law schools don't know much about Indigenous legal traditions, so I hope to inspire more interest in this field and teach foundational skills to serve them in their practice.”

Borrows, who is Anishinaabe of the Otter dodem and a member of the Chippewas of Nawash First Nation located in the Georgian Bay area, defended her LLM at U of A in August.

Her thesis, "The Land is our Casebook: Revitalizing Indigenous Law in Relation with the Living World,” focuses on Tsilhqot'in law and examines how Indigenous laws flow from the land itself.

In the fall, Borrows began her doctoral studies under the supervision of Associate Professor Hadley Friedland. Her dissertation topic examines Anishinaabe law and its intersections and diversions from "Rights of Nature" frameworks.

“I am so happy for both Lindsay and the lucky students who will learn from her,” said Friedland. “Lindsay is a creative and visionary Indigenous legal scholar who is a born teacher.”

Land-Based Learning

For Borrows, helping students understand that the land is a rich legal resource has been central to her teaching.

She has co-taught land-based Anishinaabe law camps in her home community of Neyaashiinigmiing, as well as several other Anishinaabe communities in southern Ontario, since 2014.

“These camps are opportunities to witness Anishinaabe law in practice and learn through both observation and hands-on engagement,” she said. “We have lots of fun being outside with one another in beautiful locations, and people create friendships that last far beyond the course.”

“It can also be uncomfortable learning new things, especially given the reality of the colonial context in which Indigenous laws are often lived today. I hope to support students through this discomfort because it's likely not going anywhere.”

While Borrows has hit her stride in teaching and community-based research, she had not always imagined herself pursuing an academic career in Indigenous law.

“I stopped out of law school after the first year and a half because I didn't think it was for me,” said Borrows. She eventually returned to complete her JD after transformative work opportunities with the Indigenous Law Research Unit at the University of Victoria.

“That work refreshed my vision of another way of engaging in law that was community focused, creative and had healing potential. It's humbling to really struggle with something, leave, then return to it eventually. I have a lot of empathy for people who struggle with Canadian law, especially those who are personally affected by its application in their life.”

With a faculty position now in hand, Borrows will be continuing to explore her doctoral research, all while balancing caring for and learning from her two young children.