Peter A Allard School of Law

The Endless Crossroads: Positivism and Pluralism in Canadian Aboriginal Law with Ryan Beaton

Event Description

This talk will discuss two recent appeals to the Supreme Court of Canada (the Reference re Bill C-92, decided February 9, and Dickson v Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation, still pending) addressing the place of Indigenous jurisdiction in Canadian federalism. Ryan will then offer legal historical context for these appeals by tracing positivist-pluralist tensions that have animated Canadian Aboriginal law from its foundations in the Marshall trilogy of cases (decided by the US Supreme Court between 1823 and 1832) through to the present day.


Ryan Beaton

Ryan Beaton is a lawyer at Juristes Power Law in Vancouver and a member of the Law Societies of British Columbia and Ontario. He practises primarily in areas of Aboriginal law, constitutional law, and administrative law. He clerked for Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin at the Supreme Court of Canada in 2014-2015, prior to which he clerked at the Court of Appeal for Ontario.

In September 2023, Ryan completed a SSHRC postdoctoral fellowship in the Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia. His research examines clashing positivist-pluralist notions of power and legitimation in the development of Aboriginal law in Canadian courts. In September 2021, he completed his PhD in Law at the University of Victoria, with a dissertation focused on judicial performances of sovereignty in Canadian Aboriginal law.

Originally from Montreal, Ryan received his MSc in Mathematics from McGill in 2005, his PhD in Philosophy from the University of Toronto in 2011, and his JD from Harvard Law School in 2013.

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