Our Indigenous Law Group lawyers advise and represent individuals, communities, industry and government on matters concerning the rights and responsibilities of Indigenous people and those who seek to do business with them.
We recognize that each community is guided by its own unique history, culture and tradition. We work to ensure that we understand the needs and requirements of these communities through a hands-on approach that includes broad consultation. Our goal is to develop solutions that advance the legal, economic, cultural and environmental interests of our clients.
A team approach to service allows us to meaningfully respond to the advocacy and transactional needs of those who seek our counsel. Watson Goepel’s Indigenous Law Group is led by Anita Boscariol, former Director General, Treaties and Aboriginal Government Negotiations West, for the Department of Indigenous Affairs and Northern Development. It is further supported by an experienced team of Business, Litigation and Dispute Resolution Lawyers. In addition we maintain strong relationships with an established network of international law firms for extra-jurisdictional matters.
As a full-service law firm, we draw upon the vast expertise of our legal team, across dozens of practice areas and industries, enabling us to provide clients with support they need for a broad range of legal matters. Our deep connections in the business community allow us to assist clients seeking guidance with economic development projects.
Practice areas include
Governance and self-governance
We help communities and their leadership develop a governance model that works best for them. Our services include the preparation of laws, policies and by-laws, and assistance with elections, election appeals and elections codes. For communities wishing to adopt self-governance, we assist with the drafting of constitutions and laws, as well as with the development of administrative structures and self-government procedures.
Business and joint ventures
We help indigenous communities and non-indigenous businesses establish collaborative, mutually beneficial business arrangements. We assist with the negotiating and drafting of agreements, the assembling of financing, as well as with matters related to leasing and land holdings.
Sustainable economic development
Environmental stewardship is rooted in the principle of sustainable resource development. We assist First Nations, Government and Industry negotiate impact and benefit agreements that meet this criteria, as well as help negotiate consultation and accommodation agreements that ensure all voices are heard and considered.
Real estate, land use and development
We assist in land designations for leasing applications under the First Nations Land Management Act and the First Nations Financial Management Act, and the drafting of laws, by-laws and plans pursuant to these Acts.
Administrative and regulatory policies and practices
We help Indigenous communities strengthen their governance practises by working together to develop effective and efficient administrative structures that are responsive to the unique needs and culture of each community. We assist with the drafting of administrative, legislative, and financial management policies and procedures that are clear, concise and understandable to all.
Negotiation and implementation of agreements
We assist Indigenous communities in the negotiation of indigenous rights and title, including self-government rights, with federal, provincial and territorial governments. This includes negotiations under current government treaty and claims policies as well as those that fall outside of current policies. We also assist communities in negotiating specific claims and treaty land entitlements, as well as shared territory agreements.
Where negotiations prove not to be a viable option, we have an experienced litigation team to assist in the pursuit of rights and claims through the court system.