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Law, Aboriginal & Indigenous Guide

Aboriginal Law vs. Indigenous Law

Aboriginal Law vs. Indigenous Law

"Aboriginal law, created by Canadian courts and legislatures, is about the legal relationship between Indigenous Peoples and the Crown within the Canadian legal system.

"Aboriginal law involves the interpretation of Indigenous rights recognized in the Canadian Constitution and other laws created by Canadian governments such as the Indian Act or self-government agreements. Most notably, this body of law includes defining the nature and scope of Aboriginal and Treaty rights under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 and the Crown’s corresponding obligations to Indigenous Peoples.

"Indigenous law refers to Indigenous Peoples’ own legal systems. This includes the laws and legal processes developed by Indigenous Peoples to govern their relationships, manage their lands and waters, and resolve conflicts within and across legal systems. As with Canadian law, Indigenous law is developed from a variety of sources and institutions which differ across legal traditions."

—Kate Gunn & Cody O'Neil, "Indigenous Law & Canadian Courts" (20 January 2021), online (blog): First People's Law <>.


Special thanks to Karen McGill, UNB Law Class of 2019 and Lands Director at the Madawaska Maliseet First Nation, for her assistance with the Indigenous Law portion of this guide.

Legal Encyclopedias

Legal Encyclopedias

There are two main legal encyclopedias in law: the Canadian Encyclopedic Digest (CED) and Halsbury's Laws of Canada (Halsbury's). Both are available in print in the Law Library in the reference section on the first floor.

Electronically, CED is available in Westlaw Edge, while Halsbury's is available in Lexis+. Please note that only law students and faculty have access to Westlaw Edge and Lexis Advance Quicklaw (except for the campus-wide version of Quicklaw available to non-law UNB and STU students and faculty). Make sure to check the currency of these titles, as some can be years out of date.

Canadian Encyclopedic Digest

In print and electronically in Westlaw Edge (law students only), the CED has an Aboriginal Law title available (vol. 1 in print series).

Note that CED focuses on federal, Ontario, and western jurisdictions.

Halsbury's Laws of Canada

Both in print and electronically in Lexis+ (non-law UNB and STU students and faculty use the campus-wide version), Halsbury's has an Aboriginal Law title. The title code for the volume is HAB.

Note that Halsbury's provides information on each province in Canada, as well as federally.

Journal Article Databases

Journal Article Databases

If you already know the journal title, year, volume number and page number for an article, you may be able to access it electronically by searching for the journal's title in the UNB e-journals database. If we have the journal electronically or in print, it will be listed. You can also look up the journal title in UNB WorldCat.

Keep in mind that it can be best to start with an index rather than a full-text journal search. A few key indexes in law are listed below.

Key Resources

There are other indexes available in print and electronically, as well as more full-text journal databases. See a librarian for assistance.

For more resources, please visit the Law Library website.



To search for books at UNB Libraries, use UNB WorldCat, the library's catalogue. UNB WorldCat contains records of materials held at the Harriet Irving, Science and Forestry, Engineering, and Law libraries, as well as the Hans W. Klohn Library at UNB-Saint John.

In UNB WorldCat, items shown as LAW-RESERVE may be requested at the Law Library's circulation desk on the first floor. Items shown as LAW-STACKS are on the Law Library's second floor, arranged by call number.

Search UNB WorldCat:
Limit to: 

Aboriginal Law:

For books on Indigenous Law, see the Indigenous Law tab.

Treaties, Legislation & Case Law

Treaties, Legislation & Case Law


To find nation-to-nation treaties available in UNB's holdings, search UNB WorldCat. Many treaties are available electronically or in print in the law library.

You can also find treaties on the following sites/databases:

Key Resources for Statutes and Case Law

The following databases and websites provide access to federal and provincial cases and legislation.


The following federal statutes and regulations are related to Aboriginal law in Canada. It is not a complete list. Use a secondary source (like a legal encyclopedia) or search a database for more statutes.

There are several statutes meant to replace sections in the Indian Act (RSC 1985, c I-5). For more information, visit Crown–Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada's page "Attempts to Reform or Repeal the Indian Act." Many of these statues also attempt to fill in gaps in the Indian Act; for more, see The Canadian Encyclopedia's "Women and the Indian Act."

Some of the acts that replace sections of the Indian Act or fill in gaps include:

Other statutes that might be of interest:

Cases and Decisions

Along with searching the databases mentioned above, one can use other products to find case law:

  • Canadian Abridgment Digests
    A digest service that indexes cases by subject. This is an extremely useful resource. There is an Aboriginal Law volume available in print (vol 1) and an Aboriginal & Indigenous Law topic available electronically in Westlaw Edge (law students only).
  • Canada Digest
    A digest service similar to the Canadian Abridgment. Useful titles include Canada Aboriginal Law Digest. It is available electronically through Lexis+ (non-law UNB/STU use the campus-wide version of Quicklaw).
  • Case Reporters
    If you wish to browse the print reporters, we have some topical law reports dealing with Aboriginal law on the second floor. Much of this content is retrospective. For current cases/decisions, please use electronic databases when available.
  • First Peoples Law Report (First Peoples Law)
    A weekly news update on Indigenous rights from First Peoples Law.

Indigenous Law

Indigenous Law


The following texts might be helpful when researching Indigenous Law. As always, search UNB WorldCat for more titles.


The following resources are stories/narratives that ILRU reviewed/used to draw legal principles from. Only those from First Nations located in what is currently New Brunswick are listed. Note that these books are located at the Harriet Irving Library.

For other stories/narratives, search UNB WorldCat's holdings, and/or visit the following UNB Libraries subject guides:

Book Chapters/Articles:

  • McGill Law Journal ((2016) vol. 61, no. 4) (also available on CanLII) focused on Indigenous Law. Articles include:
    • "An Inside Job: Engaging with Indigenous Legal Traditions through Stories" by Val Napoleon & Hadley Friedland
    • "Heroes, Tricksters, Monsters, and Caretakers: Indigenous Law and Legal Education" by John Borrows
    • "The Tricksters Speak: Klooscap and Wesakechak, Indigenous Law, and the New Brunswick Land Use Negotiation" by Lara Ulrich & David Gill
  • "Indigenous Legal Traditions and Transnational Law in the Pre-confederation Maritime Provinces" by Robert Hamilton, in Reflections on Canada's Past, Present and Future in International Law / Oonagh E Fitzgerald, Valerie Hughes & Mark Jewett. LAW-STACKS KF4483 .I67 R44 2018 and eBook.
  • "What Is Indigenous Law? A Small Discussion" by Val Napoleon (via ILRU)
  • Windsor Yearbook of Access to Justice ((2016) vol. 33, no. 1) (also available on CanLII) focused on Indigenous Law. Articles include:
    • "Outsider Education: Indigenous Law and Land-based Learning" by John Borrows
    • "Learning from Bear-walker: Indigenous Legal Orders and Intercultural Legal Education in Canadian Law Schools" by Hannah Askew
    • "Waniskā: Reimagining the Future With Indigenous Legal Traditions" by Hadley Friedland


National Inquries/TRC

National Inquiries / Truth and Reconciliation

Websites & Blogs

Websites & Blogs


The following websites may be helpful for your research:


Research Guides

Other Provinces


Blogs and News

There are many blogs maintained by lawyers and law firms, and you can find many of them at The following are a few blogs that might be helpful for Aboriginal and/or Indigenous Law research:

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