Practice Areas

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Consultation and Accommodation

Ensuring the Aboriginal Nation consents to and benefits from a project are the primary goals when development occurs on our client’s traditional territory. In this regard, Arbutus Law Group LLP supports and advocates for our clients to ensure that they have been fully consulted and accommodated, and have provided consent, before any project proceeds. With our expertise in negotiating with government and proponents, drafting submissions, coordinating third party experts and providing strategic knowledge and experience, we have all the tools to help our clients protect their Aboriginal rights and title.

If you would like to talk to a lawyer specializing in this area, please contact:
Ming Song
Catherine Fagan

Economic Development

Arbutus Law Group LLP works with our clients on all aspects of economic development projects and files. We provide strategic business and corporate advice to ensure that our clients benefit from economic development opportunities. Our lawyers also assist clients, at no cost, to navigate and apply for grants from public and private economic development funds including the full range of programs offered through Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.

If you would like to talk to a lawyer specializing in this area, please contact:
Ming Song
Kathryn Deo
Francine Rattray

Education Law

Aboriginal school boards operate in a complex legal, jurisdictional and cross-cultural environment. They also play an essential part in supporting community schools and teachers in their role to educate their future generation. To support this work, we collaborate with Aboriginal school boards to strengthen their internal governance, such as through the drafting and implementation of by-laws and policies. Our lawyers also provide advice on various questions that arise from time to time: from employment matters, to building regulations, to educational legislative requirements. We also represent our clients in various financial and other negotiations to ensure that the education rights of their students are well protected and supported.

If you would like to talk to a lawyer specializing in this area, please contact:
Catherine Fagan

Elections and Referenda

One of the backbones of a strong and effective self-governing entity is an electoral system that allows for the selection of leadership that reflects the informed, representative and inclusive vote of the community. Also important is a fair and accessible vehicle for community members to voice their opinion on governance decisions affecting them through referenda, plebiscites or other voting processes. Recognizing that election appeals are highly disruptive to communities, we assist our clients to develop clear, consistent and comprehensive custom election and referenda laws that reflect the unique principles, traditions and practices of the community. We also advise on Indian Act and First Nations Elections Act elections and appeals issues.

If you would like to talk to a lawyer specializing in this area, please contact:
Catherine Fagan
Francine Rattray

Employment Law

Arbutus Law Group LLP works with our clients on employment matters to anticipate potential problems, suggest approaches, and recognize the impact of available solutions. We assist clients in the development and implementation of human resources policies. We also advise on employee terminations, wrongful dismissal allegations and employer responsibilities. To further support our clients, we provide workshops on employment matters for employees and management.

If you would like to talk to a lawyer specializing in this area, please contact:
Catherine Fagan

Environmental Law and Protection

The heart of an Aboriginal Nation is rooted firmly in its territory. Protecting a Nation’s territory and its traditional users, and the traditional users of their land is fundamental to our clients as it is to our firm. With a strong expertise in environmental law, Arbutus Law Group LLP uses the full strength of the law to protect a Nation’s territory and the way of life of their hunters, fishers, trappers and gatherers. We work with our clients to negotiate and implement co-management regimes over various land and resources, such as forestry or water resources. We also negotiate with various levels of government to create parks or protected spaces and to develop protective regimes for at-risk species or traditional activities. Through the negotiation of impact benefit agreements and other economic agreements, we also ensure that the environment and traditional way of life of our clients are fully considered and protected in all economic development initiatives.

If you would like to talk to a lawyer specializing in this area, please contact:
Ming Song
Kathryn Deo
Catherine Fagan
Francine Rattray
Emily Boyle

Financial Administration Laws and Policies

Arbutus Law Group LLP believes that sound financial management is a key ingredient to self-governance and sustained economic growth. To this end, we work with clients to develop financial administration laws, particularly under the First Nations Fiscal Management Act. In close collaboration with Council and management, we support our clients with drafting and implementing their financial laws, including the development of financial policies and procedures. We also guide and help clients through the process of receiving Financial Performance and Financial Management Systems certifications from the First Nations Financial Management Board. To ensure our clients a successful implementation of their financial laws and policies, we provide practical and hands-on workshops for Council, management, employees, and Finance and Audit Committees.

If you would like to talk to a lawyer specializing in this area, please contact:
Kathryn Deo
Catherine Fagan
Francine Rattray

Impact Benefit Agreements and other Economic Agreements

Having extensive experience in drafting and negotiating impact benefit agreements and other economic benefits agreements on behalf of our clients, Arbutus Law Group LLP brings strategic expertise to ensure that not only are our clients’ Aboriginal rights and title protected and their traditional way of life is supported, but they benefit in receiving their fair share of the financial and other rewards as a result of development on their land and territory. In this way, Arbutus Law Group LLP supports our clients’ goals to develop their territory in an environmentally sustainable manner, and in a way that is beneficial and culturally appropriate for their entire Nation. We will negotiate and work to implement agreements at all stages, from initial exploratory sessions, to memorandums of understanding, pre-development agreements, impact benefit agreements and other agreements that may be required during the implementation phase. We are comfortable and experienced in the often complex environment in which these agreements are negotiated. On behalf of our clients we collaborate with resource companies, municipal, provincial or federal governments as well as other Aboriginal Nations also impacted by a proposed development.

If you would like to talk to a lawyer specializing in this area, please contact:
Ming Song
Catherine Fagan
Francine Rattray

Justice and Corrections

It is an unfortunate reality that for far too many Aboriginal Nations, the justice system does not reflect their cultural values and traditions. It is also frequently inaccessible, slow and doesn’t provide the tools and programs needed to prevent crime, support victims and rehabilitate offenders and their communities. Our lawyers work closely with clients in their efforts to exercise their jurisdiction to build programs and systems to build a more representative, functional and restorative system of justice for their Nations.

If you would like to talk to a lawyer specializing in this area, please contact:
Catherine Fagan
Francine Rattray

Litigation Support and Strategy

Litigation is an important legal tool to be used to protect and advance Aboriginal rights and interests. Our lawyers have acted as legal counsel on precedent-setting Aboriginal law cases at all court levels including the Supreme Court of Canada. We work with Aboriginal Nations on litigation strategy and collaborate with leading Aboriginal law litigators on complex cases to ensure the best advice and results for our clients.

If you would like to talk to a lawyer specializing in this area, please contact:
Micha Menczer
Ming Song
Catherine Fagan

Self-Government Negotiations and Implementation

Self-government agreements are a key foundation for Aboriginal Nations regaining control over their governance, exercising their jurisdiction and managing their lands and resources. Arbutus Law Group LLP has extensive experience in the negotiation and implementation of successful self-government agreements. We work closely with our clients to negotiate effective modern agreements that reflect their particular values and traditions.

If you would like to talk to a lawyer specializing in this area, please contact:
Micha Menczer
Ming Song
Kathryn Deo
Catherine Fagan
Francine Rattray
Emily Boyle

Strategic Advice on Legislative Initiatives

It is important for Aboriginal communities to remain up-to-date on legislative developments and to make sure their perspectives are considered. Our lawyers worked directly in the development of First Nation-led legislation such as the First Nations Fiscal Management Act. Where Aboriginal Nations have not had a direct role in its development of legislation, we assist our clients in the analysis of proposed legislation and have appeared before Parliamentary Committees with clients presenting submissions for changes to protect Aboriginal interests or documenting their opposition to the proposed legislation.

If you would like to talk to a lawyer specializing in this area, please contact:
Micha Menczer
Catherine Fagan

Protocols and Agreements

Certainty and clarity builds relationships.  At Arbutus Law Group LLP we strive to assist our clients build strong relationships between government, proponents and other Aboriginal Nations through various agreements which are unique and fit the circumstance and relationship, all without compromising our client’s Aboriginal rights and title.

If you would like to talk to a lawyer specializing in this area, please contact:
Micha Menczer
Ming Song
Kathryn Deo
Catherine Fagan
Francine Rattray
Emily Boyle

Taxation Initiatives

Arbutus Law Group LLP brings a depth of tax experience to the table to support our Aboriginal clients on an array of taxation needs and to provide customized and straightforward advice. Our lawyers work with clients to develop and implement a wide range of taxation laws, including those under the First Nations Fiscal Management Act. We have extensive experience drafting property taxation and assessment laws, property transfer tax laws, development cost charge laws, and local service tax laws, among others. Our lawyers also assist with annual rates and expenditure laws and by-laws and assist with the negotiation, development and implementation of First Nation Goods and Services Tax laws.

If you would like to talk to a lawyer specializing in this area, please contact:
Kathryn Deo
Francine Rattray

Treaty Negotiations and Implementation

The lawyers at Arbutus Law Group LLP have extensive experience working closely with our clients across Canada to support their treaty negotiations. We provide support during all the phases of treaty development, from securing a mandate to negotiate, the Agreements in Principle, the treaty negotiation process, implementation agreements and any required follow-up agreements, negotiations or related litigation.

If you would like to talk to a lawyer specializing in this area, please contact:
Micha Menczer
Ming Song
Catherine Fagan
Francine Rattray