Indigenous Institutions and the Rule of Indigenous Law

(2021) 101 Supreme Court Law Review (2d) 325

12 Pages Posted: 6 Apr 2021

See all articles by Malcolm Lavoie

Malcolm Lavoie

University of Alberta Faculty of Law

Moira (Wolstenholme) Lavoie

University of Alberta

Date Written: April 5, 2021


This article is about Indigenous institution-building in the aftermath of colonialism, using the Wet’suwet’en dispute over the Coastal GasLink pipeline as a case study. The article first sets out the competing claims to authority among different Wet’suwet’en institutions that were involved in the dispute. It goes on to outline some of the challenges faced by Indigenous communities seeking to rebuild effective governance institutions that are viewed as legitimate by community members. The article emphasizes the importance of aligning a community’s formal governance institutions with its underlying norms of political power and authority. The success of Indigenous institution-building of this nature has important implications for the rule of law, both within Indigenous communities and more broadly. Building up effective and legitimate Indigenous governance institutions will not eliminate disputes over resource development, but it can at least provide clear parameters for their resolution. At the same time, robust governance institutions aligned with Indigenous values help to re-establish an Indigenous rule of law as part of Canada’s legal heritage.

Keywords: Indigenous law, Aboriginal law, constitutional law, law and development, law and politics

Suggested Citation

Lavoie, Malcolm and (Wolstenholme) Lavoie, Moira, Indigenous Institutions and the Rule of Indigenous Law (April 5, 2021). (2021) 101 Supreme Court Law Review (2d) 325, Available at SSRN:

Malcolm Lavoie (Contact Author)

University of Alberta Faculty of Law ( email )

Law Centre (111 - 89 Ave)
University of Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2H5

Moira (Wolstenholme) Lavoie

University of Alberta ( email )

Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2R3

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