$1.9M for international uOttawa-led research on co-existence of state and Aboriginal legal systems

Posted on Monday, June 3, 2013

OTTAWA, June 3, 2013 — A team of experts led by University of Ottawa law professor Ghislain Otis has been awarded $1,901,645 by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) for a large-scale project that will lead to a better, more sustainable legal diversity and coexistence of state and Aboriginal systems.

The project, which is funded under SSHRC’s Partnership Grants program, groups 14 universities from seven countries, along with ten partners, six of which are Aboriginal. As well, 40 students will have the opportunity to contribute to the project.  

In Canada, when a social, humanitarian or political crisis fuels differences  between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal societies, like the crises in Attawapiskat, Kashechewan, Caledonia and Oka, it is clear that there is a deep disconnect between state law and aboriginal legal traditions. These crises also highlight the belief that under the colonialist system, aboriginal legal systems have often been ignored or overruled. That said, problems arising from legal plurality or from opposing legal systems occur not only in Canada but around the world.

With this in mind, Professor Otis’s research project — a first of its kind — will compare and analyze the interaction between Aboriginal and non-aboriginal legal cultures in Canada, Africa and the Pacific Island Countries, to identify the conditions that foster legal diversity, particularly as they apply to three specific issues: land and resources, family and justice. Ultimately, the research will propose practical approaches that governments and Aboriginal peoples can adopt to support viable legal diversity.

The University of Ottawa, one of Canada’s top research-intensive universities, is dedicated to forging collaborative research on pressing global issues. We are committed to excellence and encourage an interdisciplinary approach to knowledge creation that attracts the best academic talent from across Canada and around the world.

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