Prisms of Justice: Indigenous Legal Perspectives | 23rd Annual John LL. J. Edwards Memorial Lecture

When and Where

Friday, February 11, 2022 12:00 pm to 1:30 pm
Youtube Livestream


The recording from the 23rd annual John Ll. J. Edwards Memorial Lecture, delivered by Professor Val Napoleon from the University of Victoria Faculty of Law, is now available online.

Abstract: When we hear the term justice employed, we of course apply our own expectations and definitions wrought through our own grids of intelligibility and experience. Justice and all that the concept encompasses form the aspirations that people hold for law and this includes Indigenous law. This is the way I want to take up the conversation about justice – from an Indigenous legal perspective and from within an Indigenous legal perspective. In other words, how is justice an aspiration of Indigenous law whether dealing with harms and injuries, conflicts, lands and water, gender, human rights, and so on?

Of course, there are other important approaches and definitions of justice that matter to and which impact Indigenous peoples. For example, how do Canadian aspirations of justice advance, incorporate, or reflect Indigenous law and goals? What might we learn from the conflicts and/or collaborations between Indigenous conceptions of justice and those of Canada (as if Indigenous peoples were not a part of Canada)?

Another important aspect of this conversation has to do with the language of “access to justice”. I will speak to the importance of access as it applies to Indigenous legal orders and law, and to the work of rebuilding Indigenous law. Arguably, individual and collective legal agency, and dignity are essential legalities within Indigenous legal orders – and these are also access to justice issues for all law orders.


Speaker Bio:

Val Napoleon is one of Canada’s most influential Indigenous legal scholars. She is the director of the Indigenous law degree program at UVic. She also directs the Indigenous Law Research Unit, which she co-founded in 2012 to partner with Indigenous communities, in order to support them in researching, re-articulating and rebuilding their laws. She also holds the Law Foundation Chair of Indigenous Justice and Governance, has been named a Canadian Indigenous Bar Association People’s Counsel—a rare distinction awarded to a First Nations, Inuit, or Metis lawyer for “outstanding achievements in the practice of law"— and was inducted into the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars in 2017. In 2021 she received a national Indspire Award and an honorary Doctorate of Laws from UNBC.


The annual John Ll. J. Edwards Memorial Lecture is delivered in honour of the Centre’s founder, Professor John Ll. J. Edwards. The lecture is presented by the Centre for Criminology & Sociolegal Studies and Woodsworth College, University of Toronto.


If you are a person with a disability and require accommodation, please contact Eunillyne Lazado at and we will do our best to make appropriate arrangements.


Attendance is free but registration is required.