50 Years, 50 Books: Aboriginal Justice and the Charter

Posted: Wednesday, February 09, 2022

As a way to celebrate our anniversary, Acquisitions Editor Randy Schmidt reached out to fifty UBC Press authors and asked them to talk about their favourite UBC Press book. This is what we heard.

Written by L. Jane McMillan

Book cover for Aboriginal Justice and the Charter

“David Milward’s Aboriginal Justice and the Charter: Realizing a Culturally Sensitive Interpretation of Legal Rights remains a uniquely deep and coherent exploration of the complexities facing Indigenous communities in their exercise of self-determination in the realm of criminal justice. Milward gracefully unties the misguided traditionalist–modern dichotomy that has constrained Canada’s "Aboriginal Justice Strategy" and fueled a homogenizing imposition of the Charter. The book provides reform-minded readers with the means to interpret the Charter so as to allow space for the operation of Indigenous justice while maintaining meaningful, accessible safeguards against abuses of collective power. Dissecting each of the legal rights guaranteed by the Charter, Milward advances a powerful series of proposals to bring Indigenous jurisdiction, laws and legal orders to life, today.

I was immediately drawn to this important and pragmatic work in UBC Press’s venerated Law and Society Series. In 2013, the Canadian Law and Society Association hosted its first joint conference with the Law and Society Association of Australian and New Zealand at the UBC Faculty of Law. As then president of the association, it was a tremendous pleasure to invite David Milward to an international book panel celebrating the publication of his work. The panel was chaired by esteemed legal anthropologist Bruce Miller, who wrote the insightful and hopeful forward to Aboriginal Justice and the Charter. And the readers were leading scholars of Indigenous justice: John Borrows, Chris Cunneen, Sherene Razack, and Elspeth Kaiser-Derrick. What ensued was a rich discussion of David’s unparalleled work. This exemplary text is regularly featured on my advanced Indigenous Studies syllabi. For those interested in answering the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action on justice, it is a must-read.

L. Jane McMillan, PhD, is a professor of anthropology at Saint Francis Xavier University, Nova Scotia, and author of the award-winning Truth and Conviction: Donald Marshall Jr. and the Mi’kmaw Quest for Justice (UBC Press, 2018).


Posted in 50Years50Books
Posted by Megan M.
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