Over the past several decades, there has been a remarkable evolution in the recognition of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada as key contributors to the economic and social fabric of Canada. After a long history of neglect and assimilation, it is now recognized that our constitution requires meaningful involvement of Aboriginal peoples in all economic endeavours that affect their rights and title. This leads to a duty to consult and accommodate First Nations that are affected by resource and energy projects in the more remote areas of our country as well as with respect to dispositions of government-owned lands and interests in urban regions.

Aboriginal peoples of Canada and, in particular, those of British Columbia, are at a significant turning point in their history and have unprecedented opportunities to achieve economic and cultural independence as they leverage their rights to participate more fully in the economy. At the same time, government and industry now recognize their obligation to reconcile past conduct and present objectives with affected Aboriginal rights and interests.

As one of Vancouver’s longest standing regional firms, we have particular insight into BC’s history, culture and industry as well as BC’s unique relationship with the First Nations of BC. We help Aboriginal communities and groups work with industry and governmental agencies to achieve economic solutions and strategies which are beneficial to all.

Work Highlights

MST Development Corporation and the First Nations it represents (Musqueam Indian Band, Squamish Nation and Tsleil-Waututh Nation)

  • Advising in connection with the acquisition of the Jericho Lands from the Province of British Columbia and associated development and land use issues

Musqueam Capital Corp.

  • Advising in relation to the management of assets that are owned and developed for the benefit of Musqueam Indian Band, including the 21.4 acre development known as “Block F” in the University Endowment Lands area of Vancouver

The Government of Canada

  • Retained to negotiate the Olympic Legacy Agreements with Musqueam Indian Band, Squamish Nation and Tsleil Waututh Nation
View more work highlights >

Our team consists of senior lawyers with deep-rooted relationships working with several First Nations communities. Our clients benefit from the support of these experienced lawyers with expertise in areas pertinent to First Nations economic development.

Services
  • Community-based Aboriginal business ventures (buy/sell, joint ventures, management agreements, partnerships and strategic alliances)
  • First Nations land development (leasing, financing and structuring developments)
  • Consultation and Accommodation (opinions, negotiations, referral response support, drafting C&A policies and agreements)
  • Impact Benefit Agreements
  • Resource development (forestry, mining, energy, construction, oil & gas and tourism)
  • 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)
  • Financing arrangements (opinions and transactions for First Nations, individuals and businesses)
  • Litigation and negotiation between aboriginal groups and government bodies
  • Aboriginal and Treaty Rights (opinions, negotiations and agreements)
  • Environmental law and Regulatory Management
  • Tax (opinions for structuring transactions and business entities)
  • Aboriginal wealth management (trusts, foundations and advisory services)

Whether starting new businesses or working with existing ones to facilitate growth and development, we help First Nations and private sector groups and governmental agencies to strike the balance between preserving cultural and community values with opportunities for commercial development. We assist with the creation of beneficial legal structures and solutions for First Nations that benefit their communities in the long-term through sustainable economic development. We also help private businesses and government agencies achieve their objectives when working with First Nations in ways that are viable and beneficial for all parties.

We recognize that each First Nation is unique and rich in tradition and heritage; we take the time to understand each community so as to achieve positive impact, blending community interests and values with contemporary business strategies that facilitate economic development while recognizing and enhancing cultural and social values.

Co-Chairs
Brock Johnston bjohnston@cwilson.com 604 643 3116
Michael McDonald, Q.C. mmcdonald@cwilson.com 604 891 7730
MST Development Corporation and the First Nations it represents (Musqueam Indian Band, Squamish Nation and Tsleil-Waututh Nation)
  • Advising in connection with the acquisition of the Jericho Lands from the Province of British Columbia and associated development and land use issues
Musqueam Capital Corp.
  • Advising in relation to the management of assets that are owned and developed for the benefit of Musqueam Indian Band, including the 21.4 acre development known as “Block F” in the University Endowment Lands area of Vancouver
The Government of Canada
  • Retained to negotiate the Olympic Legacy Agreements with Musqueam Indian Band, Squamish Nation and Tsleil Waututh Nation
Coastal First Nations
  • Governance issues/constitution and by-laws
  • Intellectual property rights regarding “Great Bear”
  • Shellfish/scallop fish farm venture
  • Carbon credits
  • Employment matters
  • General commercial matters
Taku River Tlingit First Nation
  • Providing advice regarding the successful development of an off grid run-of-river hydro project and ongoing advice on other commercial legal matters
Impact Benefits Agreements
  • Negotiated numerous impact benefit agreements between clients and First Nations for resource developments
  • Appointed as Contract Monitor to resolve disputes relating to a comprehensive impact benefit agreement for the $700 million Forrest Kerr hydroelectric project
Numerous universities
  • Advice regarding land dispositions and land use that respects and reflects the duty of the Crown to consult with and accommodate affected First Nations
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
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
10 Manitoba First Nations and Tembec
  • Lead negotiator on joint venture on large-scale timber licensing, harvesting, processing and marketing operations
Kwakiutl Band Council
  • Negotiated the Impact Benefit Agreement for the Orca Sand & Gravel Project with Polaris Minerals
  • Songhees Creek Hydro Project
Kanaka Bar Indian Band
  • Negotiated and structured the Kwoiek Creek Hydro Project with Innergex
Deton Cho Corporation
  • Numerous joint ventures, management agreements and related partnership agreements in NWT
View more >