Nicole O'Byrne

Associate Professor


Law, Faculty of

Room 222

1 506 451 6887

Research interests

  • Indigenous-non-Indigenous Relations
  • Evidence
  • Criminal Law
  • Canadian Federalism
  • Indigenous Self-Government and Economies
  • Advanced Evidence


BSc (Queen’s), BA Hons (Regina), LLB (Saskatchewan), LLM (McGill) PhD in Law (UVic). Nicole's research focuses on the history of Canadian federalism, public policy history and non-constitutionalized intergovernmental agreements, including the British North America Act, 1930 (the Natural Resources Transfer Agreements) and Medicare. She has published articles about various aspects of Métis history and is currently writing a book on the history of Métis-state relations in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba (1870-1970).

She has published two co-authored articles on the history of Medicare and is working on an article about the history of Medicare in Nova Scotia, PEI and Newfoundland. Her research interests also include criminal law and evidence subjects such as criminal libel and the admissibility of illegally obtained evidence. She frequently does print, radio and television interviews with the Canadian Press, CTV Atlantic, CBC New Brunswick, Brunswick News and The Lawyer’s Daily on constitutional topics such as judicial independence and criminal trial process.

Nicole has served in professional executive roles at the national level, including vice-president of the Canadian Association of Law Teachers (CALT) and president of the Canadian Law and Society Association (CLSA) (2018-2020). She served two terms as an elected faculty representative on the University of New Brunswick’s Board of Governors (2014-2020). She currently serves as an elected Faculty Representative on the University of New Brunswick Senate, the Legal Representative on the UNB Research Ethics Board, the Vice-President of the Fredericton Legal Advice Clinic, and as a representative on the Law Society of New Brunswick’s Truth and Reconciliation Education Committee.

Nicole is a certified Lean 6 Sigma Champion and has earned a certificate in University Culture and Governance from the Canadian Association of University Business Officers. Before joining UNB Law in 2009, she clerked at the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal and was a member of the Saskatchewan bar.

Courses taught

  • Aboriginal Peoples and Law
  • Evidence
  • Criminal Law
  • Constitutional Law
  • Aboriginal Self-Government and Economic Development
  • Advanced Evidence

Current research projects

  • The History of the Indigenous Education in New Brunswick
  • The Legal History of Reproductive Health Services in New Brunswick
  • The History of Medicare in Atlantic Canada
  • Section 24(2) and the Admissibility of Illegally Obtained Evidence
  • Similar Fact Evidence and Character Evidence
  • A Biography of Mary Louise Lynch – Lord Beaverbrook’s Lawyer

Selected publications

O’Byrne, Nicole and Alden Spencer. “Leaving the Classroom Behind? Lessons Learned from Designing an Online Law and Film Webinar Series,” Collage sur le droit et la savoir au temps de la pandémie/Law and Learning in the Time of Pandemic, Lex Electronica, volume 25, Numéro 4, pp. 104-110.

O’Byrne, Nicole. “Teaching Aboriginal Law in an Age of Reconciliation,” Antistasis 9(2019) Issue 1, 56-65.

O’Byrne, Nicole. Is History Too Important to be Left to Historians? A Review of Canada’s Odyssey: A Country Based on Incomplete Conquests by Peter Russell. (21 September 2018).

O’Byrne, Nicole. “‘No other weapon except organization’: The Métis Association of Alberta and the 1938 Métis Population Betterment Act” Journal of the Canadian Historical Association vol 24, no. 2 (2013): 311-352.

O’Byrne, Nicole. “Through the Grace of God I am the founder of Manitoba’: Louis Riel’s Constitutional Thought.” Hans V. Hansen (ed.) Riel’s Defence: Perspectives on His Speeches. McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2014, pp. 90-105.

Marchildon, Gregory P. and Nicole O’Byrne. “Last Province Aboard: New Brunswick and National Medicare.” Acadiensis, volume XLII (Winter/Spring 2013): 150-167.

Marchildon, Gregory P. and Nicole C. O’Byrne. “From Bennettcare to Medicare: The Morphing of Medical Care Insurance in British Colombia.” In Making Medicare: New Perspectives on the History of Medicare in Canada, ed. Gregory P. Marchildon (Toronto: University of Toronto Press), 2012, pp. 207-228.

O’Byrne, Nicole. “A rather vexed question…’: The Federal-Provincial Debate over the Constitutional Responsibility for Métis Scrip.” The Review of Constitutional Studies, volume 12 (2007): 41-79.

Selected media interviews

June 6, 2021 CBC online. New Brunswick’s little-known school for assimilating Indigenous children.

June 4, 2021 Francopresse. La Cour suprême reconnait des droits ancestraux au Canada à certains Autochtones américains

June 3, 2021 CBC Information Morning (Fredericton, Saint John, Moncton). History of a Day School.

November 30, 2020 The Globe and Mail. The Marshall decision explained: Why the impact of a 1999 Supreme Court ruling is still felt today.

June 15, 2020 CBC online. Higgs scraps legislation to increase emergency powers of government and police.

June 11, 2020 CBC online. Bill would give police, government sweeping power over citizens.

May 7, 2020 CBC online. Virus problems in Quebec, New England entrench strict border measures in N.B.

May 3, 2020 NB Media Co-op. Nicole O’Byrne on Tommy Douglas and Louis J. Robichaud and their Contributions to Medicare.

May 1, 2020 CBC online. First Nations saddened but not surprised by acquittal in hit-and-run death of Brady Francis.

April 29, 2020 CBC Information Morning. Interview with Terry Seguin on community conversation about the people who helped shape public health care in the province.

January 9, 2020 Canadian Press. Group to examine UNB law faculty building name and connection to slavery.

January 8, 2020 CBC online. ‘No plans’ to change judicial transfer veto power, says Justice Department.

October 31, 2019 CTV News (Kevin Bissett/ The Canadian Press). New Brunswick slavery connections: Portrait of Ludlow removed from law school.

October 31, 2019 L’actualité. Le portrait du juge pro-esclavage George Duncan Ludlow retiré de l’UNB.

October 11, 2019 National Post. UNB considers name change after law students raise concerns about faculty namesake.

August 13, 2019 Global News. New Brunswick Crown will not appeal acquittal in Oland murder trial.

July 19, 2019. A breakdown of the not guilty verdict of Dennis Oland.

July 22, 2019 ICI Nouveau-Brunswick. Une enquête sue le meurtre de Richard Oland est-elle toujours possible?

July 18, 2019 CTV News. NB judge will deliver Oland verdict, take 2, on Friday.

June 11, 2019 CBC Fredericton (interview with Terry Seguin). UNB law prof explains duty to consult.

May 30, 2019 Canadian Press/National Post. Views of New Brunswick professor draw growing concerns from faculty members.

May 16, 2019 CBC New Brunswick. How a juror was booted from a high-profile trial for staring and his spouse’s Facebook ‘like’.

April 30, 2019 Lawyers Daily. Ontario still must do more to boost Indigenous representation on juries.

April 3, 2019 Canadian Press/National Post. Judge banishes Ontario Man from Prince Edward Island for two years.

March 7, 2019 CBC New Brunswick. Cabinet ministers stand by Trudeau, backbenchers not completely sold.

February 7, 2019 Canadian Press/CTV Atlantic. Psychiatric assessment of alleged Fredericton spree killer completed.

November 26, 2018 CTV Atlantic News at 6. Police misconduct and the Oland retrial.

November 23, 2018 Canadian Press/Toronto Star/CBC New Brunswick. Jury dismissals in Atlantic Canada raise wider issues about vetting: experts.

October 31, 2018 – CBC radio (Alessandra Figaro). La longue formation du jury de process Dennis Oland, le derniere du genre.

October 12, 2018 – Canadian Press (Chris Morris). Dennis Oland’s retrial in alleged murder of father to begin with jury selection.

September 26, 2018 – Info AM Saint John (interview with Hance Colbourne) Interview with Hance Colbourne re the New Brunswick provincial election results. profile