John Borrows

Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Law

John Borrows

John Borrows

Tel: 250-721-8168

Faculty of Law, University of Victoria
PO Box 1700, STN CSC
Victoria, BC  V8W 2Y2

Professor Borrows, B.A., M.A., J.D., LL.M. (Toronto), Ph.D. (Osgoode Hall Law School), LL.D. (Hons., Dalhousie, Law Society of Ontario, York University, Queen's University, Simon Fraser University). D.H.L. (Hons., Toronto) F.R.S.C., is Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Law at the University of Victoria Law School. Prior to joining the Faculty, he was Professor and Robina Chair in Law and Society at the University of Minnesota Law School and Professor; Law Foundation Professor of Aboriginal Law and Justice at the University of Victoria Law School; Professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto; Associate Professor and First Nations Legal Studies Director, Faculty of Law at the University of British Columbia; Associate Professor and Director of the Intensive Programme in Lands, Resources and First Nations Governments at Osgoode Hall Law School. 

His publications include, Recovering Canada; The Resurgence of Indigenous Law (Donald Smiley Award for the best book in Canadian Political Science, 2002), Canada's Indigenous Constitution (Canadian Law and Society Best Book Award 2011), Drawing Out Law: A Spirit's Guide (2010), Freedom and Indigenous Constitutionalism (Donald Smiley Award for the best book in Canadian Political Science, 2016), The Right Relationship (with Michael Coyle, ed.), Resurgence and Reconciliation (with Michael Asch, Jim Tully, eds.), Law’s Indigenous Ethics (NAISA best subsequent book), all from the University of Toronto Press. He is the 2017 Killam Prize winner in Social Sciences and the 2019 Molson Prize Winner from the Canada Council for the Arts. John is Anishinaabe/Ojibway and a member of the Chippewa of the Nawash First Nation in Ontario, Canada.​​​

Curriculum vitae

Extended 20-minute interview with John:


All of John's Law 340: Indigenous Lands, Rights and Governments lectures are available on YouTube.

  • BA – Toronto (1987)
  • MA – Toronto (1996)
  • LLB – Toronto (1991)
  • LLM – Toronto (1991)
  • Ph.D. – Osgoode (1994)

Published books:

  • Resurgence and Reconciliation: Responsibilities for Shared Futures (University of Toronto Press) with Jim Tully and Michael Asch, eds. (in press).
  • Law’s Indigenous Ethics: The Revitalization of Canadian Law (Toronto: University of Toronto Press) (under consideration).
  • Wise Practices in Indigenous Law, Leadership and Governance, with Ryan Beaton, Robert Hamilton, Brent Mainprize, Joshua Nichols (U.B.C. Press) (under consideration).
  • Freedom and Indigenous Constitutionalism (Univ. of Toronto Press, May, 2016).
  • The Right(s) Relationship?: Reimagining the Implementation of Historical Treaties (University of Toronto Press, Feb, 2017) with Michael Coyle, ed.
  • Canadian Constitutional Law, 4th edition (Toronto: Emond Montgomery, 2016) (co-editor). 

Law review articles:

  • “This is How Colonialism Works in Canada: Consultation, Clyde River and the Chippewa of the Thames Cases” (2018) 14 McGill Journal of Sustainable Development Law (under consideration).

  • “Earth Bound: Reconciliation and Resurgence”, Reconciliation and Resurgence (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2018). 

  • Seven Gifts: Revitalizing Living Laws Through Indigenous Legal Practices” (2016) 2 Lakehead University Law Review 1.

  • “Heroes, Monsters, Tricksters and Caretakers” (2016) McGill Law Review (Legal Pluralism Special Issue).
  • “Learning from the Land: Outdoor Indigenous Legal Education” (2016) 32 Windsor Yearbook on Access to Justice. GUEST EDITOR FOR ENTIRE ISSUE
  • “Challenging Historical Frameworks: Aboriginal Rights, Agency and Originalism” (2016) Canadian Historical Review.
  • “Aboriginal Title and Private Property (2015) 68 Supreme Court Law Review.
  • “The Durability of Terra Nullius: Tsilhqot’in v. the Queen (2015) 48 University of British Columbia Law Review.
  • “Indigenous Love, Law and Land in Canada’s Constitution” in Arthur Schfar, Steven Lecce, eds., Fragile Freedoms: Human Rights in Global Context (London: Oxford University Press, 2015).
  • “Unextinguished: Rights and the Indian Act, Annual Rand Lecture”, (2016) UNB Law Review.

Book chapters:

  • “Origin Stories and the Law: Treaty Metaphysics in Canada and New Zealand” in Carwyn Jones, ed., ‘Kimihia te kahurangi: Historical, Legal, and International Perspectives on the Treaty of Waitangi’.
  • “Indigenous Legal Systems and Governance: Eliminating Pre and Post-Contact Distinctions in Canadian Constitutional Law” in Nathalie Des Rosiers, Patrick Macklem, Peter Oliver., eds., The Oxford Handbook of the Canadian Constitution (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017).
  • Legislation and Indigenous Rights, in Patrick Macklem and Douglas Sanderson eds., Section 35 @ 25 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2016).
  • “Indigenous Love, Law and Land in Canada’s Constitution” in Arthur Schfar, Steven Lecce, eds., Fragile Freedoms: Human Rights in Global Context (London: Oxford Univer. Press, 2017).


  • F. Dussart and S. Poirier, eds., Entangled Ontologies: Interpretations of Relations to Land in Australian and Canadian Neo-settler States (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2017)
  • LL.D. Hons.
    • Simon Fraser University (to be awarded June 2020)
    • Queens University (November 2019)
    • Osgoode Hall Law School at York University (June 2018)
    • Law Society of Upper Canada (June 2017)
    • Dalhousie University, (May 2014)

  • Governor General's Innovation Award (2020)
  • Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) Best Subsequent Book Award for Law's Indigenous Ethics (2020)
  • Molson Prize, Canada Council for the Arts & SSHRC (2019)
  • Lexpert Zenith Award (2019) Change Agent in Law
  • Top 25 Most Influential Canadian Lawyer, Canadian Lawyer (2018)
  • Killam Prize in Social Sciences, Canada Council for the Arts (2017)
  • Donald Smiley Prize, (2017) & (2002) Best Book in Canadian Political Science (Canadian Political Science Association), Freedom & Indigenous Constitutionalism & Recovering Canada: Resurgence
  • Fleck Fellowship, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity (2016)
  • Indigenous Peoples Counsel (I.P.C.), Indigenous Bar Association, (2012) for ‘outstanding
    achievements in practice of law and service to…Indigenous peoples”. 
  • Canadian Law and Society Best Book Award, 2011, for Canada’s Indigenous Constitution, also
    shortlisted for Canada Prize and Donald Smiley Best Book in Canadian Political Science
  • University of Victoria Law Students Society Teaching Award, (2009)
  • Fellow, Canadian Society of Arts, Humanities and Sciences F.R.S.C., (2007)
  • Trudeau Fellow, Outstanding achievement Humanities and Social Sciences ($225,00) (2006)
  • New Zealand Law Foundation Distinguished Visitor (2006)
  • International Fellow, Aust. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) (2004)
  • National Aboriginal Achievement Award, for outstanding accomplishment in the field of Law
    and Justice, National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation (2003).