Episode 65: Rooted Constitutionalism

Access to Justice, Indigenous Peoples – Jun 2023

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Episode 65: Rooted Constitutionalism
Broadcast Date: June 15, 2023


In this episode, CIAJ Lawyer Nathan Afilalo is welcoming Aaron Mills, a member of the Anishinaabe, Couchiching First Nation and Assistant Professor and the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Constitutionalism and Philosophy at McGill University Faculty of Law. Together, they discuss professor Mills’ theory of rooted constitutionalism, teaching Indigenous law and legal traditions in law schools, and questioning the ontological and legal assumptions underpinning the Canadian liberal constitutional framework.

Related Documentation


Aaron Mills (Anishinaabe, Couchiching First Nation) is an Assistant Professor and the Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Indigenous Constitutionalism and Philosophy. He holds a BA from Carleton, a JD from the University of Toronto, an LLM from Yale, and a PhD from the University of Victoria, where he studied under James Tully and John Borrows. Mills’ primary field of inquiry is indigenous law, which he uses to frame broader questions of legal theory, political theory, comparative law, and indigenous-settler reconciliation.

Mills’ approach to practise, theory, and method in indigenous law is informed by 15 years of education with a number of Anishinaabe elders from Treaty #3 and from southern Manitoba. Consequent to this formation, Mills’ teaching and research in the area of indigenous law are oriented around three connected projects: (1) theorizing and communicating indigenous law on its own terms; (2) imagining how indigenous law so understood can inform contemporary indigenous law revitalization projects; and (3) examining how those projects can impact upon internal (or settler) colonialism and on indigenous-settler relationships more broadly. To these ends, Mills frequently partners with indigenous elders and knowledge-holders, in support of indigenous governments and service organizations. In an educational capacity, he also supports Canadian legal and political actors, as well as legal advocacy and civil society organizations.

Beyond his CRC, Mills has received numerous awards and recognitions, including a SSHRC Talent Award, a Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation scholarship, a Vanier Canada scholarship and a Fulbright Canada scholarship.


  • Nathan Afilalo, Lawyer, CIAJ

Nathan is a graduate of McGill’s BCL/LLB program and was CIAJ’s first articling student. Trained in both Civil and Common Law, he has been called to the Ontario Bar in 2020 and is now preparing for the Quebec Bar exam. He has clerked at the Montreal Municipal Court, as well as involved himself in Montreal-based access to justice organizations such as The Mile End Legal Clinic and the Centre for Research-Action and Race Relations. At CIAJ Nathan conducts legal research on our national discussions on key issues, pens reports and helps develop CIAJ initiatives.

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