Visiting Speaker: Ryan Beaton

April 6, 2023 | 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. | McLennan Ross Hall (LC 231/237)

Visiting Speaker Ryan Beaton

The University of Alberta Faculty of Law's Visiting Speakers Committee invites you to join Ryan Beaton for a lunch hour talk.

Bill C-69, Bill C-92, and Vuntut Gwitchin: A trilogy of appeals for the SCC to (finally) address Indigenous jurisdiction

In December 2022, the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) heard the appeal of a reference opinion from the Court of Appeal of Quebec (QCCA) that largely upheld Bill C-92, federal legislation recognizing inherent Indigenous jurisdiction over child welfare and family services. The QCCA had, however, concluded that Bill C-92 impermissibly attempted to grant federal paramountcy to Indigenous laws in certain circumstances. In February 2023, the SCC heard the appeal of a decision of the Court of Appeal of Yukon (YKCA), which held that, while the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms applies to a councillor residency requirement in the Constitution of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation, section 25 of the Charter shields that requirement from a finding that it unconstitutionally violates section 15. Finally, in March 2023, the SCC will hear the appeal of a reference opinion from the Court of Appeal of Alberta (ABCA) concluding that the federal Impact Assessment Act (Bill C-69) unconstitutionally trenches on provincial jurisdiction, including in that Act's provisions relating to Indigenous peoples and Indigenous jurisdictions. 

These three appeals put front and centre questions about the place of inherent Indigenous jurisdiction in the Canadian constitutional landscape. How does inherent Indigenous jurisdiction relate to provincial and federal jurisdiction? What rules or principles of federalism govern overlaps and conflicts between Indigenous, provincial, and federal jurisdiction? Does the Charter apply to the exercise of inherent Indigenous jurisdiction? This lecture will provide an overview of these and related questions as raised by the three appeals noted above, and encourage a discussion about the stakes for the SCC's handling of these appeals and the direction the SCC might take in its judgments.


Ryan Beaton is a SSHRC postdoctoral fellow in the Allard School of Law at the University of British
Columbia. His current research examines clashing positivist-pluralist concepts of power and
legitimation in the development of Aboriginal law in Canadian courts. In September 2021, he
completed his PhD in Law at the University of Victoria, with a dissertation focused on judicial
performances of sovereignty in Canadian Aboriginal law.
Ryan is also a lawyer at Juristes Power in Vancouver and a member of the Law Society of
British Columbia and the Law Society of Ontario. He practises primarily in areas of Aboriginal
law, constitutional law, and administrative law. He clerked for Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin
at the Supreme Court of Canada in 2014-2015, prior to which he clerked at the Court of Appeal
for Ontario.
Originally from Montreal, Ryan received his MSc in Mathematics from McGill in 2005, his PhD
in Philosophy from the University of Toronto in 2011, and his JD from Harvard Law School in