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TCDSB Indigenous Education Virtual Teachers Conference

The Doctrine of Discovery

Date: April 6, 2021

The Doctrine of Discovery was the international law that gave license to explorers to claim vacant land (terra nullius) in the name of their sovereign. Vacant land was that which was not populated by Christians. If the lands were not occupied by Christians they were vacant therefore could be defined as “discovered” and sovereignty, dominion, title and jurisdiction claimed.

However, North America was far from vacant when European explorers began arriving. When Christopher Columbus arrived in 1492, the lands were indeed occupied by 100 million Indigenous Peoples or one fifth of the world’s population at the time. But, as they were not Christians, they were not humans therefore, they had no rights to the land.


The Honorable Harry S. LaForme is an Anishinaabe of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, Ontario. Judge LaForme speaks frequently on Indigenous issues, Indigenous law, constitutional law, and civil and human rights.

Jeffery G. Hewitt (Cree) is an assistant professor at the University of Windsor Faculty of Law. His research interests include Indigenous legal orders and governance, constitutional and administrative law, art and law, human rights and remedies, dispute resolution and business law, as well as health law and Indigenous peoples. He teaches constitutional law, access to justice and “Indigenous Peoples, art + law.”

2019 Annual Indigenous Education Teachers' Symposium

"Authentically, Responsibly, and Repectifully-Numeracy Culturally Responsive, and Relevant Pedagogy, and Indigenous Content" brought together teachers from K-12 at the Native Canadian Centre for the purpose of learning about Indigenous Peoples in Canada, and further developing our knowledge and comfort at incorporating Indigenous content into the classroom for the benefit of all students.

This year, the guest speak was Dr. Ruth Beatty from Lakehead University, and we were also pleased to host the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Royal Ontario Museum.

Various presenters and activities during the Symposium

Various presenters and  activities during the Symposium

Various presenters and  activities during the Symposium