Our focus areas include negotiations, individual representation and legal counsel to bands and aboriginal governments.
After the Haida case in 2005, industry changed the way it does business with First Nations because the respective governments were made to consult and accommodate before advancing their project. This includes initiatives such as timber harvesting, utility easements, pipelines, or any other potential disturbance to First Nations territory.
We have acted for both First Nations and Industry in these negotiations that have resulted in community benefit agreements, tax regimes, by-law implementation and policy development.
First Nation individuals will most often request our support when dealing with on-reserve estates, Certificate of Possession leasing or transferring, and on-reserve business development.
Wills and estate law on-reserve is governed under the Indian Act but disputes are generally resolved in the BC Supreme Court. Many First Nation band members do not have valid wills which makes the administration more challenging for those left behind. We have also experienced a considerable amount of traditional law that interplays with estate administration which is unique to each community.
Only members of the band where land is located can hold a registered interest in that land. But what happens when an estate has beneficiaries that are not band members? This is a common occurrence and a situation we know well.
Legal Counsel to Bands and Aboriginal Governments
While we appreciate that the term “Indigenous” is becoming more common in reference to First Nations, Metis, and Inuit peoples, it is not a constitutionally protected term and therefore we prefer the legally protected term of Aboriginal.
S.35 (1) of the Constitution Act, 1982 reads: the existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal people in Canada are hereby recognized and affirmed.
We are pleased to be working in the area of Aboriginal law and primarily work with First Nation governments, Metis organizations and individuals who identify themselves as Aboriginal.
Individuals will retain our services to help them navigate a range of legal issues, some of which relate to First Nations governments, which makes our job even more interesting.