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Date published: March 20, 2020

John Borrows receives 2019 Molson Prize for his Indigenous law research

From left to right: Claudie Gosselin, John Borrows, chairholder, and Steven Loft

John Borrows, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Law at the University of Victoria, in British Columbia, was awarded the 2019 Molson Prize on October 3, for his outstanding contributions to the social sciences. The presentation took place at a keynote address and book launch at the University of Saskatchewan’s Native Law Centre, where Borrows read from and discussed his latest book, Law’s Indigenous Ethics.

Considered one of Canada’s foremost scholars in Indigenous law, Borrows challenges perceptions and creates space to delve into the symbiotic relationships between law and the environment. His work honours understandings passed down through generations. He shares these with future generations by engaging with the community and teaching and through his many publications and books.

In fall 2018, Borrows and fellow law professor Val Napoleon opened the world’s first-ever joint common law and Indigenous law degree, a four-year program, at the University of Victoria’s Faculty of Law. The program combines intensive study of both traditional Indigenous legal orders and Canadian common law.

“The Molson Prize award is a wonderful opportunity to connect with other communities, Elders, practitioners and writers about the revitalization and resurgence of Indigenous peoples' own laws. Understanding Indigenous law is a group effort. The Molson Prize will help me expand this work.”

John Borrows, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Law and Professor, University of Victoria

SSHRC acting director, Research Training Portfolio, Claudie Gosselin, and Steven Loft, director, Creating, Knowing and Sharing: The Arts and Cultures of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples, at the Canada Council for the Arts, presented the prize to Borrows.

Two Molson Prizes of $50,000 each are awarded annually to distinguish Canadians, one in the arts and the other in the social sciences and humanities, to continue contributing to the cultural and intellectual heritage of Canada. The Canada Council administers the awards in conjunction with SSHRC’s Research Training Portfolio.

“We are honoured to present the 2019 Molson Prize to Dr. Borrows. It is not only in recognition of his values of developing and sharing Indigenous legal knowledge, but also recognizes his collaboration with the community, which will surely see a transformational change in the ways that law is practiced in Canada.”

Claudie Gosselin, acting director, SSHRC Research Training Portfolio

Borrows is Anishinaabe/Ojibwe and a member of the Chippewas of Nawash First Nation in Ontario. He also won the 2017 Killam Prize for social sciences.


Canada Council for the Arts

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