First Nations Consultation, Negotiation & Accommodation

A key area of Ratcliff and Company LLP’s practice is negotiating and litigating in the area of the Crown’s obligation to consult with and accommodate First Nations’ constitutionally-protected aboriginal rights, title and treaty interests.  Consultation with First Nations, and accommodation of First Nations’ interests, is required when the Crown is contemplating conduct which affects aboriginal rights and title and treaty interests. We can assist at all levels of negotiating and litigating on consultation matters – from assessing the potential benefits in a proposed project to managing the consultation process for First Nations, negotiating accommodation arrangements and benefits packages, and where the Crown fails to discharge its legal duty, pursuing court action to enforce our clients’ consultation rights.

We have represented First Nations in several landmark consultation cases at all levels of court, including at the Supreme Court of Canada. These cases include, among others:

  • Haida Nation v. British Columbia (Minister of Forests), 2004 SCC 73
  • The Squamish Nation et al v. The Minister of Sustainable Resource Management et al, 2004 BCSC 1320
  • Kwikwetlem First Nation v. British Columbia (Utilities Commission), 2009 BCCA 68
  • Rio Tinto Alcan Inc. v. Carrier Sekani Tribal Council, 2010 SCC 43

Our lawyers have collectively handled hundreds of negotiations leading to various types of benefits agreements with provincial and federal Crowns and/or third party project proponents which have led to significant economic and cultural protection benefits for our First Nation clients. Notable achievements in this regard include:

  • Representing the Squamish Nation and Lil’wat Nation in accommodation negotiations and agreements relative to the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games 
  • Representing numerous First Nations in forestry, fisheries, mining and energy matters on their territories
  • Comprehensive benefits agreements for numerous First Nations affected by the Pacific Trails LNG pipeline
  • Landmark accommodation agreements concerning the rapid development of the Port of Prince Rupert
  • Negotiating significant accommodation agreements for First Nations affected by mining development in British Columbia, Yukon and Ontario