How it Began
The Indigenous Law Research Unit (ILRU) started as a single project in partnership with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC), the Indigenous Bar Association, and the Law Foundation of Ontario. The project was led by Dr. Hadley Friedland and Dr. Val Napoleon and coordinated by Renée McBeth Beausoleil.
This project not only had a significant impact on the TRC’s Calls to Action, but it also helped identify a broad demand from communities for more research partnerships to recover and revitalize Indigenous laws. The ILRU emerged as one response to this need, and what began as a small group undertaking a single research project grew into an extensive team dedicated to Indigenous law research.
Since 2012, requests for our work have increased, and our team has expanded to include a diversity of staff, students, faculty, affiliates, and community partners. To date, we have worked with over 50 Indigenous communities and 500 community members. As always, our work remains community-focused and determined by our research partners’ needs and goals.
Our projects focus on the challenges that Indigenous communities face today. We research a wide range of legal topics, including gender issues, human rights, citizenship, land and water, environmental concerns, family law and governance.
What the Future Looks Like
We envision a future where Indigenous legal traditions are theorized, researched, and taught, just like all of the world’s other great legal traditions. The revitalization of Indigenous laws, institutions, and legal processes is essential to re-building healthy citizenries in self-governing, lawful communities. Creating more respectful and symmetrical relationships across legal traditions is a necessary part of building and maintaining robust reconciliation within and between peoples, now and for future generations.