aboriginal law 


In Canada, natural resource and infrastructure projects that impact land and resource rights can be made all the more complex when they involve aboriginal and treaty rights or claims.

Successful development of these important projects requires a thorough understanding of the law regarding aboriginal rights, and constructive relationships with aboriginal groups. While the law imposes certain requirements on the government to consult aboriginal groups, companies often assist with this consultation and frequently go one step further to directly negotiate economic benefits arrangements.

This requires experienced legal counsel that can ensure such agreements provide mutual benefit to the parties. They must also make certain that timely and defensible permits can be issued irrespective of whether or when an economic benefits agreement is reached.

McMillan's Government and Public Policy Group has deep experience in these areas. Our lawyers work closely with our environmental, energy, real estate, capital markets and tax law groups, and have represented clients on matters at all levels of court including the Supreme Court of Canada.

Members of our team have served as legal advisor to the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, chief treaty negotiator, head of the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office, deputy minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, and chief of staff to a former Prime Minister.

McMillan professionals help clients lead by:

  • Advising and representing aboriginal groups invested as partners in major projects
  • Counseling on issues with commercial deals involving Indian Act bands and aboriginal corporations
  • Negotiating engagement agreements, exploration agreements and impact benefit agreements with aboriginal groups
  • Advising on working with federal and provincial governments concerning aboriginal consultation
  • Advising on the impact of Canada's anti-corruption laws
  • Represented a First Nation in connection with their equity investment in a major hydroelectric facility to add 450 mw of capacity through the renewal and expansion of four hydro-electric generating stations
  • Advised major project developers on consultation with aboriginal groups and related permitting and environmental assessment processes
  • Defended a First Nation consultation process performed by a Crown agent on behalf of the Government of Ontario
  • Represented an educational institution in a matter involving the custody and handling of aboriginal remains
  • Provided strategic advice in relation to a major financing of a commercial mining venture with significant aboriginal consultation and accommodation and land claims issues
  • Acted for an international mining company to obtain injunctive relief to dismantle an illegal blockade of its operations
  • Acted for a forest company in defending judicial review proceedings brought by a First Nation alleging that the Crown had failed to adequately consult with them in connection with Crown granted tenures
  • Acted for a mining company in defending an Environmental Appeal Board challenge to Crown granted permits
  • Acted for an international mining company in defending judicial review proceedings in the Federal Court relating to the issuance of various federal permits and authorizations
  • Provided consultation and accommodation advice to a Crown agency in connection with the renewal of various Crown licenses and authorizations to private industry
  • Represented a mining company in negotiation of benefit agreement with a First Nation in relation to a mine in British Columbia
  • Advised an international mining company on negotiation of early engagement agreements with various First Nations

reported cases

  • Attorney General of Canada v. Rose Lameman, Francis Saulteaux, Nora Alook, Samuel Waskewitch, and Elsie Gladue on their own behalf and on behalf of all descendants of the Papaschase Indian Band No. 136, Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Alberta (SCC File No. 31871)
  • Aboriginal people and limitation of actions
  • Kapp [2008] s. 15(2) Charter validity of commercial fishing license privileges to Aboriginal people in pilot program on Fraser River
  • Weyerhaeuser [2004] duty to consult Haida Nation by a private company under a Crown forestry license
August 2020

Environmental Law Bulletin

March 20, 2020

Restructuring, Bankruptcy and Insolvency Bulletin

May 2018
April 2016
Aboriginal Bulletin
January 2016

Environmental and Aboriginal Law Bulletin

Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute
December 2015

Financial Services Bulletin

November 2015
Aboriginal Law Bulletin
September 2015

Environmental and Aboriginal Law Bulletin

March 2015
Aboriginal Law Bulletin
October 2014
Aboriginal Law Bulletin
September 2014
Aboriginal Law Bulletin
July 2014
Aboriginal Law Bulletin
July 2014
Aboriginal Law Bulletin
June 2014
Aboriginal Law Bulletin
June 2014
Aboriginal Law Bulletin
October 2013
Case Law Update 2012-2013: Duty to Consult
Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia, Aboriginal Law Conference - 2013
September 2013
Aboriginal Law Bulletin
July 2013
Aboriginal Law Bulletin
June 2013

Aboriginal Law Bulletin

May 2013
Aboriginal Bulletin
January 2013
Aboriginal and First Nations Law Bulletin
November 2012
Aboriginal and First Nation Law Bulletin
June 2012
Aboriginal Law Bulletin
November 2011
Aboriginal Law Bulletin
November 2011
Cumulative Effects
Canadian Aboriginal Law 2011 Conference, Pacific Business Law Institute
Co-authored by Robin Junger,  Eugene Meehan, QC, Keith Clark and Nika Robinson
October 2011
Continuing Legal Education Society of BC, 2011 Administrative Law Conference 
Co-author Robin Junger and Nika Robinson
July 2011

Construction and Aboriginal Law Bulletin
also published in TerraLex Connections enewsletter

November 2010

Aboriginal Law Bulletin