Today, there exists tremendous potential for Aboriginal Peoples to realize commercial success. Over the course of his 30-year career, Michael has been a principal proponent of Aboriginal economic growth. He has led many of Canada’s most intricate and complex precedent-setting Aboriginal development projects totalling more than $30 billion in the mining, energy, pipeline, forestry, real estate and infrastructure contexts.

A member of the Peguis First Nation in Manitoba, Michael couples vast business experience with distinct cultural understanding to serve our clients from a holistic perspective, crafting solutions that unite legal, commercial, governance and social interests.

Michael’s experience has resulted in a wide range of practical knowledge and expertise, serving industry and Indigenous Nations.

Impact Benefit Agreements (forestry, mining, oil and gas, pipeline, energy, infrastructure) Environmental law and Regulatory Management
Consultation and Accommodation (opinions, negotiations, referral response support, drafting C&A policies and agreements) First Nations land development (leasing, financing and structuring developments)
First Nations governance (self-government agreements, land codes, internal governance laws, treaty implementation legislation and regulation, municipal services agreements, tax revenue sharing and taxation regimes) Community-based Aboriginal business ventures (buy/sell, joint ventures, management agreements, partnerships and strategic alliances)
Financing arrangements (opinions and transactions for First Nations, individuals and businesses) Aboriginal and Treaty Rights (opinions, negotiations and agreements)
Aboriginal wealth management (trusts, foundations and advisory services) Tax (opinions for structuring transactions and business entities)
Litigation and negotiation between Aboriginal groups and government bodies

Whether advising on new ventures or creating partnerships to facilitate growth and development, Michael helps Aboriginal and First Nations communities strike the balance between preserving community values with opportunities for commercial development. He also helps private businesses achieve their objectives of working with First Nations in a way that is responsive, creative and practical.

Michael’s work has instilled policy changes to Aboriginal consultation and accommodation, resulting in the “McDonald Model of Negotiation,” a precedent for Indigenous-commercial negotiations now widely used across Canada.

Awards & Distinctions
  • Appointed as Queen's Counsel, Canada, 2017
  • UBC Allard School of Law's Alumni Builder Award, 2018
*Michael J. McDonald Law Corporation
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Awards & Distinctions
  • Appointed as Queen's Counsel, Canada, 2017
  • UBC Allard School of Law's Alumni Builder Award, 2018
Industry Involvement
  • Member, Indigenous Bar Association, Law Societies of BC and Northwest Territories
  • Co-Chair, BC Law Society Benchers Truth & Reconciliation Commission Advisory Committee
  • Adjunct Professor, Sauder School of Business (Aboriginal Peoples & Business)
Community Commitments
  • Member, Peguis First Nation (Manitoba)
  • Member, Indigenous Bar Association Scholarship Foundation
  • Member, Peguis First Nation’s Trust Nomination Committee
Education & Call to Bar
  • Call to Bar: Northwest Territories, 2010
  • Call to Bar: British Columbia, 1990
  • Bachelor of Laws, University of British Columbia, 1988