Past Event! Note: this event has already taken place.

Webinar: It’s A “Full Box”. The Historical Struggle for Recognition of Aboriginal And Treaty Rights

September 22, 2021 at 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM


Pre-existing Aboriginal rights, including the right to self-government, are a fact of the Canadian constitution and the Common Law. But getting these rights fully recognized and fully implemented remains a challenge for First Nations, for Canada and for the courts. Join our expert panelists on September 22, 2021 at noon ET as they discuss the historical struggle for rights recognition and what the current context means for First Nations’ laws, law-making and self-government.

Effective self-governance is critical to the survival, health and well-being of First Nations people. It is a central pillar in reconciliation and in the creation of a new nation-to-nation relationship with the Crown. It is crucial to the long-term governance of Canada.

This is the fourth in our series of five one-hour webinars in 2021 exploring the themes behind Rebuilding First Nations Governance (RFNG) – a First Nations community-led, multi-partner, SSHRC-funded research project to find pathways out of the Indian Act and into exercising the inherent right of First Nations to self-government.


Satsan (Herb George), Project Co-Director, Centre for First Nations Governance

Satsan is one of the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs of the Frog Clan and a long-time Speaker for the Wet’suwet’en Nation. He has over 40 years of experience working towards recognition and respect for the inherent right to self-government in the courts, classrooms, and communities. Early in his career, Satsan was a key figure and strategist in the Delgamuukw-Gisdayway decision which ruled, for the first time, that Aboriginal Title and rights exist in law and are recognized and protected under section 35. Following the decision, Satsan went on to serve two terms as elected regional chief, representing BC at the Assembly of First Nations. He has lent his expertise to build educational programming around Aboriginal and Treaty rights and the inherent right to self-government in universities across Canada. In 2005, Satsan founded and became President of the National Centre for First Nations Governance (now the Centre for First Nations Governance). Today, Satsan is leading a collaboration between the Centre (where he continues to serve as Senior Associate), the Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC) and Carleton University’s School of Public Policy and Administration – the Transitional Governance Program. The Project provides strategic direction and directs applied research and analysis to support First Nations governments who are working to leave behind Indian Act administration.

Kent McNeil, Fulbright Canada Distinguished Chair in International Area Studies, Yale University

Kent McNeil is an Emeritus Distinguished Research Professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, where he taught from 1987 to 2016. His research focuses on the rights of Indigenous peoples in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States. In 2007, he received a Killam Fellowship to pursue this research. In 2019, he was the Law Foundation of Saskatchewan H. Robert Arscott Chair at the University of Saskatchewan College of Law, his alma mater.

In addition to his academic work, Professor McNeil has acted as a consultant for numerous Indigenous organizations and has been an expert witness in court cases in Canada and Belize. He is currently working on sovereignty issues in relation to the European colonization of North America and the development of international law in this context. He will be pursuing this research as a Fulbright Canada Distinguished Chair in International Area Studies at Yale University in 2021-22.

Naiomi Metallic, Professor Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University

Naiomi is from the Listuguj Mi’gmaq First Nation in Gespe’gewa’gi. She holds a BA (Dalhousie), an LLB (Dalhousie), an LLL (Ottawa), an LLM (Osgoode) and PhD (Alberta – in progress). As of June 2016, she is full-time faculty at the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University and she holds the Chancellor’s Chair in Aboriginal Law and Policy. As a legal scholar, she is most interested in writing about how the law can be harnessed to promote the well-being of Indigenous peoples in Canada and conveying this information in accessible ways.

Rebuilding First Nations Governance (RFNG) is a national alliance of First Nation communities and Tribal Councils, academic researchers and public sector practitioners created to support First Nations leadership and rights holders that have made the decision to transition out from under the Indian Act to their own inherent rights governance. This six-year applied action research project is supported by a $2.5M SSHRC Partnership Grant.

Through a process of community-led research, reflection and action, the project aims to help communities replace the Indian Act with effective and legitimate First Nation governance based on the strategic direction of the community. The research emerges from the priorities identified by the rights holders – the people. It will help Nations reclaim Indigenous forms of decision-making and revitalize Indigenous governance practices.

The webinar series is hosted by the Institute of Public Administration of Canada.  The scheduled dates and topics are:

1.    March 3: “A dream of our people for going on eight generations”

2.    April 28: The five pillars of the Inherent Right to Self-Government

3.    June 23: The “ill-fitting boot” – the origin and content of the Indian Act

(all three available now at

4.    September 22: It’s A “Full Box”. The Historical Struggle for Recognition of Aboriginal And Treaty Rights

5.    November 17: From theory to practice: Principles and Strategies for Implementing the Inherent Right to Self-government

Register for our workshop here.