Sébastien Brodeur-Girard

Study program:
Current affiliation:
Université de Montréal

Sébastien Brodeur-Girard (law, Université de Montréal) is researching ways to reconcile Western law and Indigenous legal traditions with the help of relational law, a theory that places relationships at the center of legal thought and practice.

Doctoral research

Relational Law as a Tool for Reconciling Aboriginal and Western Legal Systems

Differing visions of law have been the source of numerous conflicts between Aboriginals and non-Aboriginals, and yet the paradigms in which these visions are anchored are not as irreconcilable as they appear. Modern treaties and new jurisprudential interpretations of historic treaties seem to suggest some openness to the idea, so fundamental in Aboriginal legal traditions, that the principal subject of laws must be relationships with others.

This openness makes it possible, through a shared – or at least converging – acceptance of the concept of “relational law,” to find points of confluence in the western and Aboriginal legal systems that will not only facilitate the reconciliation of these traditions but engender creative new solutions for resolving the inevitabilities that arise when different peoples share a single territory.

Sébastien is a doctoral candidate in law at the Université de Montréal, under the direction of professor and Trudeau Fellow Jean Leclair. His project will seek ways to reconcile western state law and Aboriginal legal traditions, drawing in particular on the concept of relational law.

Before dedicating himself to law, Sébastien studied history, completing a Ph.D. at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris, under joint supervision with the Université de Montréal. His thesis, which he defended in Paris in 2004, focused on French religious and intellectual history in the 18th century and was rated “Very Honourable, with Committee Praise.”

To build work experience outside the academic world, Sébastien worked as a self-employed historian. He developed a heritage circuit and a website for a municipality, served as a spokesperson in Québec for an online genealogy service and advised the Institut Historica­Dominion on the production of new “Heritage Moments” video clips. He wrote history books for the general public and several school textbooks.

His growing interest in issues related to Aboriginal peoples led him to pursue a certificate in Aboriginal studies at the Université Laval, as a part-time student in 2011, before returning to school full-time to develop expertise in Aboriginal law. He completed a bachelor of law at the Université de Montréal in 2014 and then moved directly on to his doctorate.

In keeping with his interest in travel and exploring new disciplines, Sébastien also completed a short graduate program in religious science at the Université du Québec à Montréal in 2015, with a focus on the Brazilian Amazon, including an anthropology field study.