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Nov Advocate 2017

878 THE ADVOCATE VOL. 75 PART 6 NOVEMBER 2017 Napoleon’s election to the college is both a recognition of the power of this work and a spur to further activity in the field. “What’s so wonderful about this recognition is that my work is all about Indigenous legal traditions— and ultimately, that’s what is being recognized here,” says Napoleon. “Indigenous law and legal orders are an important part of scholarship, today and into the future.” DR. RYAN BEATON, PH.D. CANDIDATE Ryan Beaton is the kind of student UVic Law has always sought to attract and support. He likes to stir things up and ask the big questions no one else wants to ask, like “Why are we doing it this way?” and “Is this really working?” His approach makes him a useful presence in any room where ideas and imagination are valued—including, to this point, as a clerk at the Supreme Court of Canada (2014–15) and now as a Ph.D. candidate at UVic. “I don’t like hierarchies,” says Beaton. “I don’t like formalities or the obscurity that the law lays over political issues. My general approach to law is to peel all of that back—that’s what excites me about legal scholarship.” It’s no surprise, then, that Beaton has been awarded a 2017 Trudeau Scholarship— one of the biggest and most prestigious awards in the country. Beaton looks at law from a philosophical and theoretical perspective, which perhaps comes from his broad academic background. Before coming to UVic he already held a Ph.D. in philosophy and an M.Sc. in mathematics, and, upon graduating from Harvard Law, he was recognized for his contribution of more than 1,000 hours of pro bono service as a law student. His drive to understand the big picture has pushed him to challenge one of the Canadian legal system’s biggest and most contentious issues: Indigenous land claims. “It’s a major, unresolved part of our history in Canada,” says Beaton, whose research is tackling the inadequacies of what he sees as an outdated legal doctrine for recognizing Aboriginal land rights. “For 35 years now,” he explains, “the courts in Canada have been developing a framework for recognizing Aboriginal rights under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. My project examines the parts of this legal framework that have reached a breaking point and which, in many ways, obscure the underlying political stakes involved in Aboriginal rights cases.” “I have two basic goals for this research: to propose concrete changes to the courts that would further the stated aim of reconciliation, and to make the legal process more accessible to the general public to support broader democratic debate around these issues.” Why did Beaton choose UVic as the institution at which to pursue a Ph.D. in law? While clerking at the Supreme Court of Canada for Chief Justice


Nov Advocate 2017
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