Aboriginal & Treaty Rights

Leaders in Aboriginal rights and title and Treaty rights

Our lawyers have been involved in some of the most significant cases and developments that have advanced the rights of First Nations people in Canada. We continue to seek recognition of our clients’ Aboriginal rights through the courts, negotiations and the treaty process.

We represented First Nations in negotiations leading to the adoption of s. 35 into the Constitution in 1982 and since then we have been involved in significant cases including Sparrow, Delgamuukw, Haida Nation, and Tsilhqot’in.

In Ahousaht Nation v. Canada, we were legal counsel for five First Nations who, for the first time in Canadian legal history, established broad-based Aboriginal rights to fish commercially for multiple species of fish in their territories off the West Coast of Vancouver Island.

In Blueberry River First Nations v. British Columbia (also known as Yahey v. British Columbia) we are seeking to prove a large-scale infringement of Treaty 8 rights in Northeast BC and help ensure that any future industrial development in that area is done in a way to protect those Treaty rights.

We have advanced the Aboriginal rights and title of our First Nation clients in a wide range of land claims and consultation and accommodation matters, resulting in successful court decisions, return of significant lands to our clients, and agreements that bring considerable economic and cultural benefits.

Notable Experience

  • Saik’uz and Stellat’en First Nations v. Rio Tinto Alcan – Aboriginal rights and title claim in the BC Supreme Court seeking to restore flows and fisheries in the Nechako River that was dammed by Rio Tinto Alcan in the 1950s.
  • Blueberry River First Nations v. British Columbia – A comprehensive Treaty 8 infringement claim in BC Supreme Court seeking to protect treaty lands and rights from further industrial development in Northeast BC.
  • Ahousaht et al. v. Canada – Major litigation proving an Aboriginal right for several Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations to fish commercially for any species of fish in First Nations’ traditional fishing territories on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, proving an infringement of that right, and responding to Crown’s claims to justification of that infringement.
  • Thomas et al. v. Canada – A claim in the British Columbia Supreme Court to the lands on which the Provincial Legislature sits in Victoria, resulting in a multi-million dollar settlement for two Victoria First Nations.
  • Squamish Indian Band v. Canadian Pacific – Claim for land in the Kitsilano Point area of Vancouver against the Canadian Pacific Railway resulting in the return to the Squamish Nation of 10 acres of the former Kitsilano Indian Reserve – the Squamish Nation village of Sen̓áḵw – in the Kitsilano Point area of Vancouver.
  • Mathias (Squamish Nation) v. Canada – Claim for land in Kitsilano near downtown Vancouver resulting in a multi-million dollar settlement after (what was then) the longest trial in Federal Court history.
More Notable Experience
  • Coldwater Indian Band v. Canada, 2017 – Proved that the Government of Canada breached its fiduciary duty obligation to the Coldwater Indian Band when it approved the transfer of the existing Trans Mountain Pipeline easement through Coldwater’s reserve.
  • Tsawwassen First Nation v. Vancouver Port Authority – A claim against the Crown, the Roberts Bank Port and BC Ferries for unlawful interference with Tsawwassen First Nations’ riparian rights on their reserve, resulting in a multi-million dollar settlement.
  • Participated as counsel in many leading aboriginal rights cases in the Supreme Court of Canada including Sparrow, Delgamuukw, Haida Nation, Osoyoos Band v. Oliver, R. v. Kapp, and Tsilhqot’in.

Our Aboriginal Rights and Title & Treaty Rights Lawyers

Ankenman Frances
Frances Ankenman
Arbeau Jamie
Jamie Arbeau
Benoit Emilie
Emilie Benoit
Blomfield Kate M.
Kate M. Blomfield*
Ellison Michelle M.
Michelle M. Ellison*
Fred Victoria B.
Victoria B. Fred*
Independent Associate Counsel
Giltrow  Maegen KC
Maegen Giltrow* KC
Partner, Lead – Indigenous Law Group
Glowacki Lisa C.
Lisa C. Glowacki*
Hermansen Grace
Grace Hermansen
Holender Ewa
Ewa Holender
Hume Emma
Emma Hume
Hume Nathan
Nathan Hume*
Lee Kevin D.
Kevin D. Lee*
Managing Partner
Lehmann R. Brent
R. Brent Lehmann*
McDade Gregory J.  KC
Gregory J. McDade* KC
Senior Counsel
McDonald Hannah
Hannah McDonald
Nicholls Jeffrey R.
Jeffrey R. Nicholls
Pozniak Kristy A.
Kristy A. Pozniak
Rich John R.
John R. Rich
Senior Counsel
Saran Vyas
Vyas V.C. Saran
Skeels Melinda
Melinda Skeels*
Stephan  Karl P.
Karl P. Stephan*
Senior Counsel
Struyk Tyler
Tyler Struyk
Sudeyko Natalia
Natalia Sudeyko
Tate James
James Tate*
Turner Simon
Simon Turner
Yabsley Gary R.
Gary R. Yabsley*
Senior Counsel