Indigenous law in Canada

Ratcliff LLP

Indigenous law boutique Ratcliff LLP is well-versed in advising First Nation clients based in British Columbia, the Yukon and other Canadian provinces. Core areas of expertise for the group include matters relating to Aboriginal consultation and accommodation, Aboriginal titles and rights, as well as disputes involving mining, oil and gas and land use. North Vancouver-based practice head Maegen Giltrow specializes in the protection of Aboriginal rights and provides support with both litigation and advisory counsel. Litigation specialist Lisa Glowacki majors on environmental, natural resources and First Nations matters.

Responsables de la pratique:

Maegan Giltrow KC

Autres avocats clés:

Lisa Glowacki

Principaux clients

Huu-ay-aht First Nation

Blueberry River First Nation

Stellat’en First Nation

Maa-nulth Treaty Society (five First Nations)

Lax Kw’alaams First Nation

Esquimalt First Nation

Okanagan Indian Band

Tsawwassen First Nation

Ehattesaht First Nation

Fort Nelson First Nation

Nacho Nyak Dun First Nation

Assembly of First Nations

Principaux dossiers

  • Acted for Saik’uz First Nation to establish that Aboriginal fishing rights are a sufficient proprietary interest to ground a tort action in private nuisance.
  • Represented Ehattesaht First Nation in a challenge against the Province of British Columbia’s mineral staking regime.
  • Advised Blueberry River First Nations in a Treaty Land Entitlement claim that sought compensation for the Government of Canada’s failure to provide the amount of reserve land promised under Treaty 8.

Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP

Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP houses a strong Indigenous law group that is routinely instructed by developers and operators of mines, pipelines and energy projects that operate in First Nation territories, as well as First Nations governing bodies and First Nation-owned businesses. Commercial ventures, taxation issues, Aboriginal consultation, project financing and contentious matters are all within the scope of the team’s expertise. The practice is led by a duo of experienced Vancouver-based partners. Leading figure Roy Millen specializes in contentious matters, particularly those relating to the natural resources and energy segments. Alongside him, Sam Adkins is known for advising on Aboriginal negotiations for large-scale LNG projects. Terri-Lee Oleniuk is the key partner-level contact in Calgary, while Vancouver-based associate Rochelle Collette supports the partners on contentious matters.

Responsables de la pratique:

Roy Millen; Sam Adkins

Autres avocats clés:

Terri-Lee Oleniuk; Rochelle Collette

Principaux clients

Barrick Gold

BC Treaty Commission

BMC Minerals

FPX Nickel

Grand River Enterprises

Mowi Canada West

NexGen Energy


Teck Resources

TransCanada PipeLines

Unified Fisheries Conservation Alliance

Vopak Development Canada

Principaux dossiers

  • Advised NexGen on its Rook I uranium project in northern Saskatchewan.
  • Assisted ABO with legal and regulatory advice for applications to the Alberta Utilities Commission to construct and operate the 514.6 MW Buffalo Plains Wind Farm located near Lomond, Alberta.
  • Assisted with Indigenous negotiations and consultation on LNG developments in Canada, including LNG Canada.


The over 40-strong team at Fasken fields lawyers across its offices in Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary, Toronto and Quebec and offers a leading quality of service on Indigenous matters. The ‘collaborative’ and ‘pragmatic’ group is regularly instructed by clients in the energy, oil and gas, mining, forestry, real estate, finance and fisheries sectors seeking support with due diligence on Indigenous issues that arise from M&A, securities and tax transactions. Additional skill lies in the contentious sphere, namely regarding court challenges, injunctions and regulatory proceedings. Vancouver-based practice head Kevin O’Callaghan, described by one client as ‘dynamic and effective in litigation’, is also well-equipped to handle advisory matters, including environmental assessments and consultations with Indigenous peoples. Additional key partners include disputes specialist Dani Bryant and Kai Alderson, who brings expertise to energy and natural resources matters, in Vancouver, and Brenden Hunter in Calgary, who focuses on regulatory, Indigenous and environmental law. The department was strengthened with the arrival of Quebec-based associate counsel Pierre-Christian Labeau in June 2022.

Responsables de la pratique:

Kevin O’Callaghan

Autres avocats clés:

Dani Bryant; Brenden Hunter; Kai Alderson

Les références

‘The team has a variety of practical, on-the-ground experience, which makes their advice effective and pragmatic.’

‘The team is collaborative and provides cost-effective and robust representation.’

‘Kevin O’ Callaghan has vast experience across all aspects of Indigenous law. He is dynamic and effective in litigation, and is a valued advisor in navigating complex issues.’

Principaux clients

NorthRiver Midstream

British Columbia Hydro and Power Authority

Cindy Dickson

EMX Royalty

Coastal Gaslink Pipeline

Cermaq Canada

Government of Quebec

Principaux dossiers

  • Assisted NorthRiver Midstream with the regulatory application for a natural gas liquids pipeline system.
  • Advised BC Hydro on Indigenous and environmental issues related to Site C, a large hydroelectric dam.
  • Represented Cindy Dickson in her challenge to a residency requirement.

Gowling WLG

The practice at Gowling WLG is noted for advising a host of First Nation, Métis and Inuit governments, Indigenous political organizations, and government and corporate clients who work with Indigenous communities. Its advisory prowess encompasses the negotiation of claims and self-government agreements, Indigenous tax advice, environmental assessments and consultation to First Nations, as well as negotiating mineral and mining resource agreements. Class action litigation and disputes relating to Indigenous title and treaty rights make up the bulk of the team’s contentious work. Practice head Paul Seaman works from both the Toronto and Vancouver offices and focuses on transactions and projects where the Crown’s obligation to consult with Indigenous peoples is involved. Ottawa-based Cam Cameron majors on Indigenous commercial matters and gambling law.

Responsables de la pratique:

Paul Seaman

Autres avocats clés:

Cam Cameron

Borden Ladner Gervais LLP

The group at Borden Ladner Gervais LLP is regularly called upon by Indigenous governments, agencies, financial institutions and energy companies to assist with environmental assessments, consultations and accommodation processes. Other noted strengths of the group include project financings involving Indigenous groups and lands, Indigenous jurisdiction issues and litigation. Toronto-based Cherie Brant steers the practice; she routinely provides policy and governance counsel to Indigenous groups and leads on energy transactions. Dedicated Indigenous law counsel Chris Roine of the Vancouver office is noted for his experience assisting First Nations organizations with partnerships, commercial arrangements and governance matters.

Responsables de la pratique:

Cherie Brant

Autres avocats clés:

Chris Roine

Principaux clients

BC Ferries Corporation

Fort Severn First Nation

British Columbia Housing Management Commission

Provincial Rental Housing Corporation

Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP

The team at Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP is known for advising a great range of clients, including federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments, Indigenous groups and businesses. The group assists forestry, fishing, agriculture, mining and energy-sector clients with project-related transactions, governance and in litigation across Canada dealing with Aboriginal and treaty rights. Vancouver-based Thomas Isaac steers the practice and specializes in Aboriginal legal matters and related environmental assessments, negotiations, and regulatory and constitutional issues. Sandra Gogal in Toronto is an additional key contact.

Responsables de la pratique:

Thomas Isaac

Autres avocats clés:

Sandra Gogal

Principaux clients

Greater Vancouver Regional District

Métis Nation – Saskatchewan Secretariat

Metis National Council Secretariat

Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

Trans Mountain Corporation

Generation Mining

Prince Rupert Port Authority

Lawson Lundell LLP

The practice at Lawson Lundell LLP shows particular strength in the natural resource segment, including mining projects, oil sands projects, transportation and shipping infrastructure projects, in addition to liquefied natural gas projects. The team is routinely instructed by government agencies, Aboriginal governments and corporate clients. Practice co-head Keith Bergner leads from Vancouver and specializes in advising both private and public sector clients, as well as government agencies, on Indigenous law and regulatory matters. Alongside him, John Olynyk co-leads from Calgary and focuses on environmental regulatory and Indigenous law matters. Vancouver-based partner Lana Shipley is noted for her activity on corporate and commercial energy matters.

Responsables de la pratique:

Keith Bergner; John Olynyk

Autres avocats clés:

Lana Shipley

Principaux clients

Canadian Natural Resources

Canadian Pacific Railway Company

Inuvialuit Regional

Ministry of the Attorney General (British Columbia)

Government of Alberta – Ministry of Indigenous Relations

Grieg Seafood BC

Canadian Energy Regulator

BC Hydro and Power Authority

Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers

Western LNG

Casino Mining

Baffinland Iron Mines

Agnico Eagle Mines

KGHM International

Pine Point Mining

McCarthy Tétrault

The group at McCarthy Tétrault is regularly retained to advise on the duty to consult, Aboriginal and treaty rights, risk management, the assessment of right assertions, the financing of Indigenous owned projects and matters arising from the Indian Act. Litigation is a noted strength of the group, and it is equally active on injunctions and disputes relating to revenue sharing agreements. Toronto-based practice co-head Bryn Gray specializes in both advisory and contentious matters. Co-leading alongside him, Daniel Bornstein majors on commercial, aboriginal and environmental matters. Partner Selina Lee-Andersen left the firm in January 2023.

Responsables de la pratique:

Bryn Gray; Daniel Bornstein

Principaux clients

Newcrest Mining

Vale Canada

CN Rail

Enbridge Pipelines

Foran Mining

Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs

J.D. Irving

Bruce Power


Hydro One

Bennett Jones LLP

The group at Bennett Jones LLP is experienced in assisting clients with the negotiation of agreements with Indigenous groups relating to communications, capacity funding, benefits sharing and joint economic ventures. The team has additional expertise in dispute resolution work and advising communities on matters relating to governance and Aboriginal rights. Partners Sharon Singh and David Bursey co-lead the practice from Vancouver; ex-practice head Deirdre Sheehan left the firm in February 2023. Partner Radha Curpen is another name of note.

Responsables de la pratique:

David Bursey; Sharon Singh

Principaux clients

Global Container Terminals

Kissner Group

Kinross Gold Corporation

Natural Law Energy

Evolugen (by Brookfield Renewable)

Cedar LNG Partners (GP)

All Nations Cannabis

ATCO and The Yukon Electrical Company

Mining Association of British Columbia

Canadian Pacific Railway Company

Nicola Valley Aggregates

George Massey Tunnel Replacement Projects

Principaux dossiers

  • Assisted Global Container Terminals with regulatory and Indigenous law matters.
  • Acted for Stone Canyon Industries Holdings LLC and Kissner Group Holdings in connection with competition and foreign investment matters.
  • Advised Kinross on environmental review, regulatory permitting and Aboriginal community relations for the Great Bear Dixie Project.


The group at Dentons focuses on representing industry clients in matters involving Aboriginal law issues, both before regulators and courts, including the Supreme Court and provincial superior courts. In addition, land claims, treaty rights and the evaluation of Aboriginal risks in the context of project financings come under the umbrella of the group’s expertise. Calgary-based practice head Bernard Roth focuses on energy regulation and administrative processes, while Laura K. Estep is noted for assisting major energy companies through all stages of the regulatory process, including representation before the Canada Energy Regulator.

Responsables de la pratique:

Bernard Roth

Autres avocats clés:

Laura K. Estep

Principaux clients


Enbridge Pipelines


Syncrude Canada


Teal Jones Group

Canada China Business Council

Principaux dossiers

  • Advised on the nature and extent of the client’s delegated consultation obligations and on how to effectively negotiate with First Nation communities.
  • Prepared a report which analysed the legal, political, and economic barriers to engagement by Indigenous businesses with the Chinese market, and outlined potential solutions to address those challenges.
  • Representing and advising in four litigation matters brought by the Innu of Uashat and of Mani-Utenam in relation to their assertion of Aboriginal title and rights on lands affected by hydroelectric projects of Hydro-Québec, and which also involve claims in damages of approximately C$2bn.

Norton Rose Fulbright

Norton Rose Fulbright‘s practice is known for assisting a range of clients with project development on land that affected by Aboriginal or treaty rights. The group’s specialties include land claim negotiations, joint ventures and partnerships, regulatory issues, risk mitigation, dispute resolution and litigation. Calgary-based practice co-head Ray Chartier focuses on litigation and arbitration involving the energy, construction and logistics sectors, as well as ESG compliance; alongside him, Emily Chan co-leads from Vancouver and counsels Indigenous groups on energy and infrastructure matters.

Responsables de la pratique:

Ray Chartier; Emily Chan

Les références

‘They are very experienced and knowledgeable. They have a broad cross-Canada knowledge of the law.’

Principaux clients

Province of Alberta

Ropes & Gray LLP

Justice Canada

Rio Tinto Alcan

Vermillion Energy


Townline Ventures

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC)

Principaux dossiers

  • Represented the Province of Alberta in a claim brought by the Beaver Lake Cree Nation alleging that its Treaty rights to hunt, trap and fish have been infringed by the cumulative effects of development in North Central Alberta.
  • Represented the Province of Alberta in a claim involving the interpretation of Treaty 7.
  • Assisted Magellan Advisors with due diligence counsel on First Nations legal and regulatory compliance issues relating to the provision of fibre optic networks to remote First Nation communities in Ontario.

Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP

The group at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP, working under the umbrella of the firm’s wider regulatory, Indigenous and environmental department, supports clients on the gamut of Indigenous matters. Consultation and benefits agreements, advising on the Crown’s duty to consult, the negotiation of land tenure agreements on Reserve land, as well as the resolution of First Nations-related disputes, are noted strengths. The practice is co-led by Indigenous law specialists Sander Duncanson and Richard King, based in Calgary and Toronto, respectively.

Responsables de la pratique:

Sander Duncanson; Richard King

Principaux clients

TC Energy

Prosper Petroleum

Trans Mountain Corporation

Province of Manitoba

Nuclear Waste Management Organization

Suncor Energy Oilsands Limited Partnership

Coalspur Mines


The practice at Torys handles a variety of contentious and non-contentious matters, including M&A transactions involving Indigenous communities, commercial arrangements, energy and infrastructure projects, disputes, land claims and restructurings. The group is co-led from Toronto by Valerie Helbronner, who focuses on the involvement of Indigenous communities in infrastructure projects; and litigator John Terry. Former Supreme Court Justice and senior counsel Frank Iacobucci is noted for his participation in contentious work. Associate Brianne Paulin majors on due diligence for Indigenous and environmental matters.

Responsables de la pratique:

Valerie Helbronner; John Terry

Autres avocats clés:

Frank Iacobucci; Brianne Paulin

Les références

‘An excellent team to support negotiations and balanced advice. They have done excellent work in promoting negotiations and settlements.’

‘Frank Iacobucci and John Terry are unusual in that they have a great level of trust and respect both with government and with Indigenous people. Mr. Iacobucci in particular is one of the few outside counsel able to move the Federal and provincial mandates on matters.’

‘The Torys Indigenous Law team has excellent industry knowledge and takes time to understand our business and ensure that their advice is focused. The advice that we receive is very strategic and thoughtful.’

Principaux clients


Vermilion Energy

Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs/Sand Hills Casino Resort LP


Qikiqtani Inuit Association and Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.

First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada

Ontario First Nations Limited Partnership

Government of Canada/Government of Ontario/12 Robinson Superior First Nations

Principaux dossiers

  • Acted for Enbridge in its sale of an 11.57% non-operating interest in seven of its operating pipelines in the Athabasca region to Athabasca Indigenous Investments.
  • Represented the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and Sand Hills Casino Resort LP in a claim against the Province of Manitoba and Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation.
  • Advised QIA and Baffinland Iron Mines in their discussions concerning the Mary River Project in Baffin Island, Nunavut.

DLA Piper (Canada) LLP

The group at DLA Piper (Canada) LLP routinely assists relevant players from Indigenous communities, governments and industry, and has almost four decades of experience advising on oil and gas, renewables and First Nation governance matters. Calgary-based practice head Heather Treacy focuses on civil litigation, land and reserve issues, consultations and joint-venture agreements. Additional contacts include partner Josh Jantzi and counsel Wally Braul, who joined from Gowling WLG in October 2022.

Responsables de la pratique:

Heather Treacy

Autres avocats clés:


Josh Jantzi; Wally Braul

Les références

‘Size, scale, resources, diversity of industries, etc., are second to none in the law business, which leads to them being a one-stop-shop place to get legal services.’

‘Both Heather Treacey and Josh Jantzi have an almost encyclopedic understanding of Aboriginal Law in Canada which has been very helpful for advancing our interests.’

Principaux clients

Imperial Oil Resources


Encanto Resources

Campbell River Indian Band

Brascan Corporation

Yukon Energy Corporation


Gingolx Village Government

Strong Pine Energy Services

Principaux dossiers

  • Defended Imperial on issues arising on First Nation reserve lands where it is alleged that environmental contamination occurred.
  • Advised on governance matters and representation issues involving the Hereditary Chiefs ‎Council.‎
  • Acted for various regulators and public entities involving duty to consult obligations with ‎Indigenous peoples and when government action may trigger the duty to consult and ‎accommodate, where applicable.‎