The members of the MLT Aikins Indigenous practice area provide a high level of focused knowledge and work collaboratively with the firm’s other practice areas to bring our clients the benefits of a full-service business law firm with a significant understanding of the unique issues facing Indigenous communities.
Intergovernmental Relations and Treaty and Aboriginal Rights
For decades, MLT Aikins has represented clients in Treaty and Aboriginal rights negotiations and litigation; comprehensive and specific claims; and a wide variety of legislative, regulatory and other negotiations with the federal, provincial and municipal governments. Our lawyers have played a leading role in landmark land claims settlements, self-government negotiations, constitutional accords and the development of inter-governmental relations protocols, and have represented Indigenous governments in Treaty and Aboriginal matters in the Courts and before federal and provincial regulatory tribunals.
We represent many Indigenous communities in matters arising from the duty to consult and accommodate, and we have particular depth in matters such as water and water rights, forestry, mining and oil and gas development, pipelines, land use policies and land development, hunting and fishing, roads and access to reserves. We have negotiated a wide variety of impact benefit and related business and consultation arrangements between Indigenous communities and the resource sector.
Business Law for Indigenous Groups
Our lawyers have been at the forefront of Indigenous economic development initiatives, successfully structuring projects and partnerships across a broad range of industries, including hospitality, gaming, food processing, agribusiness, property development and leasing, construction, transportation and natural resources. We primarily represent Indigenous governments and Indigenous-owned entities, but also act for lenders and others doing business with Indigenous groups.
Indigenous Governance and General Counsel
We provide advice on all aspects of management and governance, and act as general counsel to Indigenous governments. We have drafted constitutions and bylaws, negotiated agreements with other levels of government on a broad range of funding and program arrangements, and drafted and advised on membership, election, taxation, trespass, land use, human resources, substance abuse and finance and administration bylaws and policies. Our litigation group has represented many Indigenous governments in employment, commercial, taxation, insurance and other general litigation, as well as disputes relating to elections, membership, reserve land and similar issues.
Trusts and Investments
Drafting trust agreements that meet a community’s needs requires knowledge of trust law, tax law and Aboriginal law, as well as an understanding of Indigenous communities. Our collaborative approach brings together the skills of experienced lawyers in all relevant practice areas to provide high quality, cost-effective advice on structuring trusts and drafting trust agreements and investment policies; advising trustees; drafting bylaws relating to major settlements and trust account administration; and advising on the taxation of trusts and trust income.
- Counsel to various First Nations on the development and administration of property tax and financial administration legislation.
- Counsel to several Indigenous communities on the establishment and structuring of limited partnerships, corporations and trusts for both on- and off-reserve economic development, including the negotiation and structuring of partnerships and joint ventures with industry partners.
- Counsel to Ontario and Alberta First Nation-owned entities on the structuring and acquisition of a gaming and hospitality business.
- Counsel on precedent-setting Métis Aboriginal rights litigation.
- Prepared and negotiated a broad range of specific claims.
- Counsel to several Aboriginal communities on specific claims, expropriation and economic development issues.
- Counsel to a First Nation on the creation of a new service rig company, one of the first to be wholly-owned and operated by one First Nation, resulting from a collaboration between a major oilsands producer and the First Nation.
- Counsel to an Alberta Métis Settlement Council on the right of the Council to govern Métis Settlement lands.
- Counsel to a number of First Nations on water and waste water infrastructure including water supply agreements, licensing and regulatory issues, and participation in regional water systems.
- Counsel to the Chiefs’ Water Committee of the Assembly of Treaty Chiefs (Alberta) on the first federal legislation for First Nation drinking water.
- Successfully negotiated a number of impact benefit agreements resulting in substantial community benefits and economic development opportunities for Aboriginal communities in the resource sector.