Boughton Law’s Indigenous Practice Group has the knowledge and expertise to advise Indigenous clients and organizations on a wide range of issues.

The members of Boughton’s Indigenous Practice Group have assisted many Indigenous communities and businesses across the Western provinces and the Yukon and Northwest Territories to maximize their economic potential. From establishing new businesses and facilitating strategic alliances with other Indigenous groups and industry partners, to participating in ground breaking resource sector projects, we bring our passion for helping our clients succeed.

Our team is led by an experienced core of senior lawyers who have long established relationships with many Indigenous communities.  We have over 30 years of experience across a wide range of matters, including:

  • Treaty negotiations
  • Drafting, negotiating and ongoing compliance with impact and benefit agreements
  • Protecting Indigenous traditional knowledge and intellectual property
  • Governance matters
  • Establishing community, business and investment trusts
  • Creating integrated business structures to maximize preferential tax treatment and minimize exposure to liability
  • On-reserve commercial development, financing and leasing
  • Multi-stakeholder joint ventures
  • Implementing reserve-based regimes under the First Nations Land Management Act, and the First Nations Commercial and Industrial Development Act
  • Structuring and financing large resource sector infrastructure projects

We work with both Indigenous peoples and institutions to understand the various obligations and opportunities during these processes. Our goal through all of this is to help clients fashion processes and outcomes that promote relationship building and healing.

We are excited by the significant business development opportunities available to our Indigenous clients today, and take great pride in helping them turn their economic goals into reality.

  • Indigenous Sustainable Economic Development

    Indigenous sustainable development law balances economic development, respect for Indigenous rights, and environmental conservation for future generations. We assist our Indigenous clients in starting new businesses, restructuring existing businesses to maximize preferential tax treatment, minimizing exposure to liability, and developing their economic capacity as well as human and natural resources according to their communities’ direction. We are excited by the significant sustainable development opportunities available to our Indigenous clients today, and take great pride in helping them turn economic goals into reality.

  • Impact Benefit Agreements

    We have a great deal of experience in negotiating impact-benefit agreements in forestry, mining, oil and gas, and other natural resource-based industries to support long term sustainability. Standard terms of such agreements include training opportunities, contributions to education trusts, improved Indigenous business fiscal benefit opportunities, preferential hiring of community members, enhanced contracting options in the bidding process, and improved review and participation in all regulatory applications.

  • Representative Transactions
    • Jointly represented 23 Alberta-based indigenous communities in their acquisition, for $1.1 billion, of an 11.57% equity interest in seven Enbridge-operated pipelines in the Athabasca region. This acquisition is the single largest indigenous energy transaction in North America. The pipeline assets are underpinned by long-term contracts and highly-predictable cash flows. The financing was completed with non-recourse debt and included a loan guarantee of $250 million from the Alberta Indigenous Opportunities Corporation. Athabasca Indigenous Investments Limited Partnership (Aii) is the special purpose partnership which, through a subsidiary, holds the 11.57% equity interest in the seven pipelines. The indigenous communities with partnership equity are eight First Nations of Treaty 6, five First Nations of Treaty 8, four Métis Settlements, three Métis Nations and three Métis Locals of the Métis Nation of Alberta Association. Boughton Law Contact: Philip Barton & Donya Vahidi
    • Jointly represented eight First Nations and Métis communities in their acquisition and financing of 15% equity in the Northern Courier Pipeline Limited Partnership (which is a pipeline asset with a value of approximately $1.3 billion).  This acquisition was unprecedented because of the number of participating Indigenous communities and was completed with non-recourse debt financing from ATB Financial and a loan guarantee of up to $40 million from the Alberta Indigenous Opportunities Corporation. Boughton Law Contact: Philip Barton & Donya Vahidi
    • Represented Fort McKay Group of Companies LP, a leader in oilfield construction and services in the Northern Alberta mining sector, and owned by the Fort McKay First Nation, in its acquisition of a majority interest in a prominent aboriginal owned water and waste handling company.  This merger positioned the Fort McKay based business as a first tier oilsands services supplier in the region (February, 2020).  Boughton Law Contact: Donya Vahidi
    • Lead counsel to Fort McKay First Nation and Mikisew Cree First Nation in their 2017 acquisition of an interest in a bitumen and diluent storage, blending and cooling facility located north of Fort McMurray, and associated $545 million financing by way of private bond placement.  At closing, this transaction represented the largest-ever business investment by a First Nations entity in Canada (November, 2017). Boughton Law Contact: Philip Barton & Donya Vahidi
    • Legal support to the negotiation team of the Kaska Dena Council (on behalf of the BC Kaska) in entering into a Resource Funding Agreement (“Agreement”) with Hawthorne Gold Corp. (“Hawthorne”) in connection with the continued exploration and development of Hawthorne’s Cassiar Gold Camp near Cassiar, British Columbia. (September 2009)
    • Negotiated and advised on the drafting of a ‘Traditional Knowledge Protocol’ between BC Kaska Nation and Hard Creek Nickel Corporation. (June 2009)
    • Acted on behalf of BC Kaska Nation in the drafting and development of two Resource Funding Agreements to negotiate a Traditional Knowledge Protocol and a detailed Socio-Economic Participation Agreement with Columbia Yukon Explorations Inc. (July 2009)
    • Legal support to the negotiation team developing Memorandum of Understanding and Traditional Knowledge Protocol between Kwadacha Nation, Tsay Key Dene and Canada Zinc Minerals Ltd. with respect to the Cardiac Creek Exploration Project. (July 2009)
    • Legal support to the negotiation team developing the Cornerstone Agreement and Traditional Knowledge Protocol between Dease River First Nation, Daylu Dena Council, Kwadacha Nation and Hard Creek Nickel with respect to the Turnagain Nickel Exploration Project. (October 2008)
    • Legal support to the negotiation team developing Memorandum of Understanding, Resource Funding Agreement and Traditional Knowledge Protocol for the Kutcho Creek Mining Project between Dease River First Nation, Daylu Dena Council and Western Keltic/Sherwood Copper/Capstone Minerals Ltd. (December 2007-2008)
    • Legal support to the negotiation team developing Memorandum of Understanding between Dease River First Nation, Daylu Dena Council, Kwadacha Nation, Kaska Dena Council and Columbia Yukon Explorations on the Storie Molybdenum Exploration Project. (November 2007)
    • Council for Council of Yukon First Nations breach of constitutional duties to consult and accommodate. Little Salmon / Carmacks First Nation v. The Government of Yukon, 2007 YKSC (CanLII), 2008 YKSC 13 (CanLII), leave to appeal to SCC granted January 29, 2009. Boughton Law Contact: James M. Coady
    • Provided legal advice and drafting of Co-operation Agreement, Agreement-in-Principle, Participation Agreement, Financial Participation Negotiations Agreement and Traditional Knowledge Protocol for the Alaska Highway Pipeline Project between the Kaska Nation and TransCanada Pipelines. (2003-2006)
  • Traditional Knowledge

    Traditional knowledge is becoming a key factor in many shared decision-making processes, particularly environmental assessment. It includes the traditional science, arts, beliefs, knowledge, practices, innovations, spirituality and other forms of cultural experience and expression that belong to Indigenous communities and which they have an interest in preserving, protecting and ensuring is fairly used.

    We work to ensure that Indigenous knowledge and science receive the protection and weight they deserve in decision-making that affects Indigenous communities.

    Our experience includes assisting Indigenous artists, organizations and communities in protecting their traditional knowledge from misuse and misappropriation. This assistance can apply to unauthorized copying of artistic works and designs, inappropriate or unpaid use of Indigenous themes and images for commercial purposes, or the expropriation of traditional knowledge without compensation or credit.

  • Treaty Negotiations

    We have over 30 years of experience in Indigenous treaty negotiations and have represented and advised Indigenous Peoples and governments on many specific, comprehensive, and Treaty Land Entitlement claims negotiations. Our lawyers are leaders in the development of Indigenous law in Canada. We have participated in various negotiation processes from early stages through to successful completion and implementation. Our depth of experience in treaty, intergovernmental and Indigenous business negotiations is unequalled.

    We have particular expertise in Indigenous self-government and policy issues and the development of constitutional accords. We understand and respect the different cultural approaches that each party brings with them to the negotiating table and believe wholeheartedly in the importance of accommodating that diversity while achieving a mutually beneficial outcome for all participants.