Indigenous law graduate student wins top Canadian research award

Graduate Studies, Law

- Julie Sloan

UVic Law PhD student Aaron Mills.

UVic Law PhD student Aaron Mills was awarded the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Talent award—one of its five "Impact Awards"—at a ceremony in Ottawa today. The Talent Award is the Impact Award for graduate students. It is given to a single student each year across all the disciplines of the humanities and social sciences in Canada whose research "brings forward ideas that help us understand and improve the world around us." Mills' work is at the forefront of the movement to restore and revitalize Indigenous systems of law. It speaks to central recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report.

Mills will receive $50,000 to support his graduate research.

The strength and impact of Mills' work, teaching, and research has made him highly sought-after. He is currently a Trudeau Foundation scholar and completed his masters at Yale on a Fulbright Scholarship. He has received numerous academic awards, including a National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation Scholarship, the Casino Rama's Award for Excellence, the Gladys Watson Memorial Scholarship, and the Foundation for the Advancement of Aboriginal Youth Scholarship.

"Recognizing the accomplishments of the best researchers in Canada is essential to building a vibrant and long-term culture of discovery and innovation in our country. Now and in the future, what will keep our country competitive is our ability to help people understand, shape and adapt, which is wholly within the realm of social sciences and humanities. Congratulations to the five researchers we are celebrating today," said Ted Hewitt, SSHRC president.

"Aaron Mills is one of the most creative, innovative and thoughtful students I have taught in my 25 years as a law professor," says John Borrows, Mills' doctoral supervisor at UVic's Faculty of Law. "It's rare to encounter someone as well prepared to make an immediate impact through his scholarship and leadership skills."

Mills has already made an impact with his article "Wapshkaa Ma'iingan – Aki, Anishinaabek, kaye tahsh Crown," published in the Indigenous Law Journal, which applies  Anishinaabe law to natural resources conflicts in Canada and demonstrates how these laws can create a more peaceful and respectful path to development.

Mills says: "We can't have an honest conversation about reconciliation without taking Indigenous constitutional orders seriously. What is it we think we're reconciling? This nomination is recognition of the amazing supervision, guidance, and support I've received from so many at UVic, Couchiching, and other communities, and I'm greatly encouraged to have my efforts at articulating Anishinaabe constitutionalism considered important."


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Keywords: law, Indigenous, student life, graduate research, research

People: Aaron Mills

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