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John Borrows

John Borrows is Professor and Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Law at the University of Victoria Law School. He's Anishinabe/Ojibway and a member of the Chippewa of the Nawash First Nation.

Freedom and Indigenous Constitutionalism
Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian; First Nations; Anishinaabeg; Ojibway;
Grade Levels: University/College;

Indigenous traditions can be uplifting, positive, and liberating forces when they are connected to living systems of thought and practice. Problems arise when they are treated as timeless models of unchanging truth that require unwavering deference and unquestioning obedience. Freedom and Indigenous Constitutionalism celebrates the emancipatory potential of Indigenous traditions, considers their value as the basis for good laws and good lives, and critiques the failure of Canadian constitutional traditions to recognize their significance.

Demonstrating how Canada’s constitutional structures marginalize Indigenous peoples’ ability to exercise power in the real world, John Borrows uses Ojibwe law, stories, and principles to suggest alternative ways in which Indigenous peoples can work to enhance freedom. Among the stimulating issues he approaches are the democratic potential of civil disobedience, the hazards of applying originalism rather than living tree jurisprudence in the interpretation of Aboriginal and treaty rights, American legislative actions that could also animate Indigenous self-determination in Canada, and the opportunity for Indigenous governmental action to address violence against women.


  • 2017 Donald Smiley Prize awarded by the Canadian Political Science Association joint winner

"This remarkable work is at once challenging and accessible, philosophical and practical, and wide-ranging while firmly rooted in Anishinaabe tradition. Borrows takes a realistic, creative, and intellectually rigorous approach to some of the most difficult and pressing issues in Indigenous law, constitutional law, and political philosophy, as well as all readers who wish to better understand the relationship between indigenous peoples and Canada."— Katherine Starks, Saskatchewan Law Review

Additional Information
384 pages | 5.98" x 8.99"

Authentic Canadian Content
Authentic Indigenous Text

Law's Indigenous Ethics
Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian; First Nations; Anishinaabeg;
Grade Levels: 12; University/College;

Law’s Indigenous Ethics examines the revitalization of Indigenous peoples’ relationship to their own laws and, in so doing, attempts to enrich Canadian constitutional law more generally. Organized around the seven Anishinaabe grandmother and grandfather teachings of love, truth, bravery, humility, wisdom, honesty, and respect, this book explores ethics in relation to Aboriginal issues including title, treaties, legal education, and residential schools.

With characteristic depth and sensitivity, John Borrows brings insights drawn from philosophy, law, and political science to bear on some of the most pressing issues that arise in contemplating the interaction between Canadian state law and Indigenous legal traditions. In the course of a wide-ranging but accessible inquiry, he discusses such topics as Indigenous agency, self-determination, legal pluralism, and power. In its use of Anishinaabe stories and methodologies drawn from the emerging field of Indigenous studies, Law’s Indigenous Ethics makes a significant contribution to scholarly debate and is an essential resource for readers seeking a deeper understanding of Indigenous rights, societies, and cultures.

"Law’s Indigenous Ethics addresses very controversial topics in Canada, not just in Indigenous legal studies, but far beyond that. John Borrows employs story work methodology, along with thorough legal research, ensuring that his work is truly leading edge. Law’s Indigenous Ethics will further advance Indigenous studies in Canada and beyond. Borrows’s work moves beyond the binary, divisive, and linear ideologies dominating the Indigenous intellectual landscape in Canada. He provides nuance, complicates dominate narratives, and gives the reader much food for thought and, more importantly, asks the reader to think, reflect, and embrace the principles embedded in the seven grandmother and grandfather teachings as a whole." -Deborah McGregor, Osgoode Hall Law School, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Environmental Justice, York University

"Law’s Indigenous Ethics is extremely novel, important, and has the potential for great influence. Demonstrating tremendous expertise and fluency with its subjects, John Borrows’s arguments are sound and thoughtful, providing a number of important insights that lead me to adjust the way I think about issues that are very familiar to me." -Bethany Berger, Wallace Stevens Professor of Law, University of Connecticut

Additional Information
400 pages | 6.00" x 9.00"

Authentic Canadian Content
Authentic Indigenous Text


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