Indigenous Rights and Relations with Animals: Seeing Beyond Canadian Law

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Indigenous Peoples, Relationships with Animals, Harvesting, Cultural Perspectives, Political and Legal Power


Canadian Perspectives on Animals and the Law provides an important new contribution to the debate on the legal status and treatment of animals in Canada. Twelve chapters by leading academics and practising lawyers address a range of doctrinal and conceptual questions, situating legal analysis in the broader context of ethical and philosophical debate about justice in human-animal relationships. Topics addressed include the Ikea monkey case, key shortcomings in Canada’s animal cruelty law, the relationship between animal rights and the rights of Canada’s indigenous peoples, and the emergence of animal protection in international law. This volume should be invaluable for scholars, practitioners and students eager to explore these matters in greater depth, and an excellent resource for law school courses on animals and the law.

This chapter considers what is emphasized through Canadian jurisprudence and legal instruments about Indigenous peoples and animals, as well as what is often sidelined or rendered invisible in those mediums. Its golden thread is an attentiveness to instances where laws or legal decisions reach toward a more complete perspective on Indigenous-animal relations, and to how such instruments also obscure and distort. The chapter starts with historic treaties, ends with contemporary Inuit legislation, and considers constitutional litigation and Indigenous ontology along the way. The chapter also suggests that conversations over how Indigenous peoples relate with animals must consider how political and legal power is generated and authenticated, along with the potential of Indigenous legal traditions. The conversation is about far more than finding a productive way to discuss cultural difference.