Indigenous research

Law professor John Borrows in the Royal BC Museum

Integral to the restoration of Indigenous law to its place alongside Canadian common law, Dr. John Borrows, Killam award-winner and Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Law, honours living legal traditions by bringing the past into the present. Drawing upon natural law, he’s inspired by his spectacular community, Neyaashiinigmiing (Cape Croker on the Bruce Peninsula, Ontario).

Ethnobotanist Nancy Turner in a grassy field near UVic

World-renowned ethnobotanist Nancy Turner works with First Nations communities—especially those on BC’s central coast—to document and promote their traditional knowledge of plants, including foods and medicines.

Conference participant Diane Sam (Songhees) compares a facsimile of the Douglas Treaties with new Indigenous translations during the symposium, “First Nations, Land, and James Douglas: Indigenous and Treaty Rights in the Colonies of Vancouver Island and British Columbia, 1849-1864.”

Diane Sam (Songhees) compares a facsimile of the Douglas Treaties with new Indigenous translations during the First Nations, Land, and James Douglas: Indigenous and Treaty Rights in the Colonies of Vancouver Island and British Columbia, 1849-1864 symposium.

Heather Bliss with Beatrice Bullshields of the Kaináá Nation reading a book

Linguist Heather Bliss works with members of the Siksiká and Kaináá nations documenting and preserving Blackfoot, a Plains Algonquian language and one of 87 endangered Indigenous languages in Canada.

From language revitalization to Indigenous law, University of Victoria researchers are working with Indigenous communities and organizations in Canada and around the world to understand, preserve and celebrate Indigenous traditions and cultures.

UVic promotes research reflecting the aspirations and calls to action in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, including research grounded in traditional knowledge, the use of culturally appropriate methodology and a focus on addressing issues most relevant to Indigenous peoples.

UVic's edge in Indigenous research

Indigenous law

UVic Law is internationally recognized for its scholarship in the field of Aboriginal Law and Indigenous Rights. No other law school in Canada has more Indigenous tenure-track faculty or faculty for whom Indigenous questions are a principal research area.

Indigenous Law Research Unit

The Indigenous Law Research Unit is dedicated to the recovery and renaissance of Indigenous laws. The unit partners with and supports work by Indigenous peoples and communities to articulate their own legal principles and processes in order to respond effectively to today's complex challenges.

Environmental Law Centre

Operating Canada’s largest public interest environmental law clinic, UVic's Environmental Law Centre advocates for the restoration, conservation and protection of British Columbia's unique and diverse environment. They offer free legal services and resources to community organizations, conservation groups and First Nations.

More about Indigenous law

Artwork by Dr. Val Napoleon
Artwork by Dr. Val Napoleon

Indigenous governance

UVic's Indigenous Governance program supports the efforts of Indigenous nations to restore their land bases and ensure respect for their inherent treaty rights. 

The program contributes to the regeneration of Indigenous forms of leadership that assist in the resurgence of Indigenous communities. Faculty specialize in areas of Indigenous governance and history, political mobilization, global Indigenous rights, knowledge recovery and Indigenous women and resistance.

More about Indigenous Governance

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Indigenous language revitalization

Embedded within Indigenous languages is a wealth of knowledge and unique expression beyond words and sentences. Each language carries and represents a whole history and relationship to the land, distinct ways of thinking, and knowledge about living in the world.

For more than 40 years, UVic researchers, students and collaborators have been deeply immersed in local and national efforts in Indigenous language revitalization. They're working with Indigenous organizations, Elders, community-based researchers, language-revival specialists, community language experts and educators.

More about Indigenous language revitalization

Indigenous treaty

Indigenous well-being

UVic researchers are working to close the gap in the health inequities experienced by Indigenous Peoples in Canada, with demonstrated research excellence in such as areas as the health and well-being of Indigenous women and youth, and health issues related to HIV/AIDS in Indigenous communities.

A cornerstone of the university’s Indigenous research endeavour is the Centre for Indigenous Research and Community-Led Engagement (CIRCLE). Through engaging with stakeholders in British Columbia, across Canada and internationally, CIRCLE is an active advocate for promoting relevant and ethical research that addresses the urgent disparities experienced by Indigenous peoples.

More about CIRCLE

Hands weaving

Indigenous entrepreneurship and economic development

Indigenous businesses and communities throughout Canada have tremendous potential to revitalize regional economies and contribute to national prosperity. They can also play an integral role in local governance, cultural protection, and sustainable community development.

The National Consortium for Indigenous Economic Development (NCIED) is advancing wise practices, economic enablers and institutional mechanisms to foster Indigenous economic development across the country. 

More about NCIED

Closeup of Indigenous woven art

Our stories


All Indigenous stories


See more videos from the Vital impact - Indigenous research playlist on YouTube.

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