Aboriginal Law

The lawyers of Cassels bring extensive expertise and a multi-disciplinary approach to their work with industry, government and Aboriginal peoples (including First Nations, Métis, Inuit and Innu) in connection with business transactions and public policy decisions affected by Aboriginal issues and Aboriginal law.

Known for our extensive client base in the mining and energy sectors, which puts us in front of Aboriginal (First Nations) issues on a regular basis, our lawyers have been and continue to be involved in many significant matters involving Aboriginal rights and interests. Cassels lawyers have experience advising clients in consultation matters, including negotiating and drafting memoranda of understanding, consultation agreements, access agreements, impact/benefit agreements, participation agreements, treaty land entitlement agreements, exploration agreements and other documentation related to activities involving Aboriginal peoples.

Representative Transactions

  • Acting as Chief Negotiator for the Government of Canada (Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada) in respect of the transfer of legislative authority over lands and resources in the Northwest Territories to the Government of the Northwest Territories – this included negotiating and settling an Agreement in Principle with the GNWT and the NWT Aboriginal Summit (Inuvialuit, Gwitchin, Sahtu, Akaitcho, Tlicho and NWT Métis Nation) for the transfer of legislative authority, resource revenue sharing, transfer of assets, governance forums, environmental panels and related obligations, and integration of land and water boards
  • Acting as Chief Negotiator for the Province of Ontario (Premier’s Office) in the negotiation of gaming revenue sharing and other related financial arrangements with 133 First Nations in Ontario
  • Acting as the Chief Negotiator for the Province of Ontario, representing the Premier’s Office, to end a standoff related to a longstanding dispute over a 40-hectare tract of land in Southwestern Ontario which pitted a First Nations community against local residents and businesses
  • Acting in respect of First Nations consultations related to natural resources development in Ontario, including the negotiation of interim measures agreements, memoranda of understanding and impact and benefits agreements
  • Acting for major and junior mining companies in respect of matters related to mine exploration, development and operations in several jurisdictions around the world, involving Aboriginal lands or lands subject to Aboriginal land claims or traditional use rights
  •  Acting for financial institutions in the provision and enforcement of credit facilities to First Nations
  • Acting in respect of the negotiation of hydro transmission line easements on certain First Nations lands in Ontario
  • Acting in respect of the transfer of the local electrical distribution systems to certain First Nations in Ontario
  • Defending the Government of Canada against a First Nations class action claim involving fiduciary duties extending to the protection of First Nation property situated on a First Nation Reserve, Section 87 of the Indian Act and Section 35 of the Constitution Act