President's Dream Colloquium on Protecting Indigenous Cultural Heritage, Spring 2015
Speaker: Catherine Bell
Catherine Bell is Professor of Law at the University of Alberta specializing in Aboriginal legal issues, cultural heritage law, and inter-disciplinary collaborative community based legal research. She has been a visiting professor and scholar at various national and international universities and has helped develop and deliver various Indigenous legal education programs including the Program of Legal Studies for Native People (University of Saskatchewan), the Akitsiraq Law School for Inuit students (Nunavut, Canada), and the Banff Center for Management Aboriginal Leadership and Self-Government Program. Professor Bell is published widely on Métis and First Nation legal issues and has acted as an advisor to First Nation, Canadian, and Metis governments and organizations.
She is the author of two books on the Métis settlements of Alberta (with emphasis on self-government, landholding, and dispute resolution); contributor to and co-editor of Intercultural Dispute Resolution in Aboriginal Contexts (with Dr. David Kahane); and contributor to and co-editor of First Nations Cultural Heritage and Law: Case Studies, Voices and Perspectives (with Val Napoleon) and Protection of First Nations Cultural Heritage: Laws, Policy and Reform (with Robert Paterson). She also is the recipient of various research and teaching awards including a McCalla Research Professorship for her collaborative legal work with Indigenous peoples, and the CBA Ramon John Hnatyshyn Governor General’s Medal for outstanding contribution to the law and legal scholarship in Canada.
Professor Bell is recognized internationally for her work in the area of cultural heritage law and Indigenous peoples. Her work on Canadian law, policy and reform tackles many critical issues in contemporary cultural heritage law debated in policy forums, few of which have yet to be faced by Canadian courts. Professor Bell’s work is well known for its attempt to include and reconcile indigenous and Canadian conceptualizations of property and legal institutions, as well as its thoughtful and scholarly consideration of the multiple legal and ethical dynamics at play in the context of repatriation and trade in indigenous and other material culture. She has worked in collaboration with First Nations, Inuit, Canadian Museums, UNESCO, WIPO, ICOMOS and other international and domestic governments and organizations on these issues. Current projects include a collaboration with Yukon First Nations on cultural heritage law and practice and a joint initiative with the Musée de la civilization in Quebec on intellectual property law, ethics and Indigenous law in museum settings.
Professor Bell is also known for her innovative and unique approach to legal research that draws on legal, historical, and social scientific methodology. Much of her work is also highly interdisciplinary, developed in collaboration with other experts and/or indigenous communities partnering in a particular research program. While some of her work has been characterized as “legal anthropology,” most often it defies clear categorization. She is often pushing boundaries both in the topics she explores and the methods she adopts.