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.

Work Highlights

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
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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.

Services
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.

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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
First Nations community
  • Negotiated the purchase and structure of northern interior sawmill and significant evergreen timber supply from Weststar Timber
Nisga’a forestry entity
  • Structured significant timber harvesting, marketing and processing operations
10 Manitoba First Nations and Tembec
  • Lead negotiator on joint venture on large-scale timber licensing, harvesting, processing and marketing operations
Various First Nations communities and industry partners
  • Numerous joint ventures, timber harvesting agreements, mergers & acquisitions and limited partnerships
Kwakiutl Band Council
  • Negotiated the Impact Benefit Agreement for the Orca Sand & Gravel Project with Polaris Minerals
  • Songhees Creek Hydro Project
Saulteau First Nations
  • Negotiated Impact Benefit Agreement for the Dokie Wind Energy Project with GE Capital
Simpcw First Nation
  • Negotiated and implemented Impact Benefit Agreements for the Bone Creek, Serpentine and Clemina Hydro Projects with Canadian Hydro
  • Anchor Loop Pipeline Project with Kinder Morgan
15 First Nations with Proponents
  • Negotiated towards Impact Benefit Agreements for the Pacific Trails Pipeline Project with Apache, EOG and Encana
Constance Lake First Nation
  • Mainline Expansion—TransCanada Pipeline with Northern Ontario
  • Calstock Energy Project with TransCanada Energy and Potter Station Power
Deton Cho Corporation
  • Numerous joint ventures, management agreements and related partnership agreements in NWT
Burns Lake Band
  • On-reserve hotel development
  • Negotiated and draft Impact Benefit Agreements for the Coastal Gas Pipeline project
Shuswap Indian Band
  • Various on-reserve development projects
  • Negotiated and drafted Impact Benefit Agreement for the Jumbo Glacier project
Industry Involvement
  • Member, Indigenous Bar Association, Law Societies of BC and Northwest Territories
  • Committee member, 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)
  • Director, Indigenous Bar Association Scholarship Foundation
Education & Call to Bar
  • Call to Bar: British Columbia, 1990
  • Bachelor of Laws, University of British Columbia, 1988