The limits of the law: Aboriginal rights in the Canadian constitution

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It has been 40 years since Aboriginal rights were enshrined in the Canadian Constitution. We have seen the recognition of First Nations claims to unceded land, the negotiation of self-government agreements, and the rise of Indigenous leadership across Canada. We have also seen communities without clean water, the arrests of First Nation activists protesting pipeline developments, and the continued social and economic struggles of First Nation peoples across the country. It seems, therefore, that this might be an appropriate moment for a reflection on the last 40 years of Aboriginal rights in the Canadian constitution. As such, this paper will examine the key legal judgements in Canadian jurisprudence to reflect on how the entrenchment of Aboriginal rights has legally affected First Nations in Canada, and question whether we have reached the limits of these decisions. The paper will be followed by a bibliography of key literature on First Nations rights and the constitution.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-187
Number of pages17
JournalBritish Journal of Canadian Studies
Issue number2
Early online date9 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2022


  • Canada
  • First Nations Rights
  • Constitutional Law
  • Aboriginal self-government

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law


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