Margarida Garcia, Jean Leclair, and Sophie Thériault: Denouncing Quebec’s Stance on Indigenous Knowledge

On 26 March 2018 in Le Devoir, eight professors, researchers, and lawyers denounced (French only) the comments of Patrick Beauchesne, Quebec’s deputy minister of the environment, who declared on 6 February that it would be problematic for environmental assessments to take Indigenous knowledge and scientific evidence equally into account. The eight signatories to the letter, including 2003 and 2004 Foundation scholars Sophie Thériault and Margarida Garcia, protested Quebec’s “counter-productive,” “reductive,” and “offensive” discourse on traditional Indigenous knowledge.

The same day, 2013 Foundation fellow Jean Leclair sought to temper latent concerns about the inclusion of Indigenous knowledge in evaluation processes in an article (French only) published by Le Devoir. “We’re not talking about using Indigenous knowledge for neurosurgery. We are talking about referring to it for something that Indigenous people know a lot about: the land,” (translation ours) he emphasized. Leclair also noted that Quebec’s open distrust of Indigenous knowledge may have offended Indigenous communities, who “clearly have something to say.”


Margarida Garcia is a 2004 Foundation scholar and an assistant professor in the Civil Law section of the Faculty of Law and the Department of Criminology at the University of Ottawa.

Jean Leclair is a 2013 Foundation fellow and a professor of constitutional law and legal history at Université de Montréal.

Sophie Thériault is a 2003 Foundation scholar and an associate professor in the Civil Law section of the University of Ottawa, where she teaches Aboriginal law, environmental law, and constitutional law.

Profile picture for user margarida.garcia

Margarida Garcia

  • Scholar 2004
  • Alumni
Vice-Dean, Research and Communications, and Professor in the Civil Law section of the Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa
Profile picture for user jean.leclair

Jean Leclair

  • Fellow 2013
  • Alumni
Recognized as the foremost expert of federalism in Canada, he turns a critical eye on the political relationships between peoples and governments and…
Profile picture for user sophie.thériault

Sophie Thériault

  • Alumni
  • Scholar 2003
Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa Alumni network executive member, Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation