Today, there exists tremendous potential for Aboriginal Peoples to realize commercial success. Over the course of his 28+ year career, Michael has been a principal proponent of Aboriginal economic growth, leading many of Canada’s most intricate and complex precedent-setting Aboriginal development projects totaling more than $20 billion.
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.
Attawapiskat First Nation
- Advised on the Victor Diamond Mine (all aspects from exploration, feasibility and mine development), including negotiation and implementation of Impact Benefit Agreements with DeBeers Canada, Attawapiskat Trust and numerous Attawapiskat Resources Inc. joint ventures
Tahltan Central Council
- Negotiated and structured the Participation Agreement on the Galore Creek Mine Project with NovaGold
Kanaka Bar Indian Band
- Negotiated and structured the Kwoiek Creek Hydro Project with Innergex
As a member of a First Nation community, Michael is uniquely experienced in Aboriginal histories. He incorporates their values into his work, providing business advice that combines strong legal advocacy, cross-cultural understanding and practical problem-solving.
|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)|
|First Nations land development (leasing, financing and structuring developments)||Litigation and negotiation between Aboriginal groups and government bodies|
|Consultation and Accommodation (opinions, negotiations, referral response support, drafting C&A policies and agreements)||Aboriginal and Treaty Rights (opinions, negotiations and agreements)|
|Impact Benefit Agreements||Environmental law and Regulatory Management|
|Resource development (forestry, mining, energy, construction, oil & gas and tourism)||Tax (opinions for structuring transactions and business entities)|
|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)||Aboriginal wealth management (trusts, foundations and advisory services)|
Whether starting new ventures or creating partnerships to facilitate growth and development, Michael helps Aboriginal and First Nations communities strike the balance between preserving cultural values with opportunities for commercial development.
While structuring solutions for First Nations that benefit communities in the long-term through sustainable economic development, Michael also helps private businesses achieve their objectives for working with First Nations in a way that is both viable and beneficial for all parties.
Recognizing that each First Nation group is unique and rich in tradition and heritage, Michael truly takes the time to understand each community so as to affect positive impact, amalgamating traditional values with contemporary business strategies that protect culture and facilitate Aboriginal economic development.
Michael’s work has instilled policy changes to Aboriginal consultation and accommodation, resulting in the “McDonald Model of Negotiation,” a precedent for Aboriginal-commercial engagement now widely used across Canada.
With his insight into Canada’s many Aboriginal cultures combined with his experience engaging with businesses across Canada, Michael brings his wealth of knowledge as co-chair to our Aboriginal Economic Development group, helping Aboriginal communities and groups as well as business and governmental agencies to achieve economic solutions and strategies that respect history, build industry and create synergy to benefit all parties.
Michael originates from a small Aboriginal community in northern Manitoba from modest circumstances. His parents had to work extremely hard to give him an opportunity for education. This instilled in him the values of dedication and humility where his success is measured by the people he serves. He appreciates that every person, community, interaction and transaction has value and opportunity. He is proud to be a part of the solution to helping Aboriginal communities and businesses engage meaningfully and successfully.
Awards & Distinctions
- Appointed to the rank of Queen's Counsel, Canada, 2017