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    Economic Development

    DGW works with our Indigenous clients on all aspects of economic development. This includes setting up appropriate business structures (Corporations both For Profit and Not For Profit, Limited Partnerships and Charitable organizations). We advise on all commercial needs, including the buying and selling of assets, negotiations with financial institutions, going concern operations, managing your real property sales and leases. We have specific expertise in all aspects of on-reserve economic development, including drafting permits and leases under the Indian Act, and pursuant to other Settlement and Land Claim structures.

    Many Aboriginal people are not waiting for treaties to begin creating their own futures. DGW supports First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities buy and sell real estate, start businesses, purchase businesses as ongoing concerns, and enter joint ventures with other companies. Our clients capitalize on the intrinsic value of their lands and to develop commercial opportunities including residential sub-divisions, retail shopping centres, hotels, restaurants, cultural centres, farms, oil and gas wells and facilities. Taxation advice is critical as a result of the long-standing tax exemption under the Indian Act and the tax-room provided by the federal government for First Nations to levy property taxes and even GST.

    We are attuned to and ready to provide the related tax advice that clients need on all fronts. We also support development on Inuit owned lands, Métis settlements and other lands. There are unique challenges and opportunities for our clients in this area. We provide advice and assistance to maximize the benefits flowing the community whole minimizing liability and taxation issues. These include the creation and management of various trust vehicles to support your business and claim settlements. All this work includes the necessary experience to guide you through the various tax and Indian Act provisions.

    Indian Act, Land Management, Taxation

    Another area of Aboriginal law concerns the federal Indian Act and other regulatory initiatives respecting Aboriginal, Inuit and Métis people. Issues include band membership, council elections, development of reserve lands, land and resource management, self-governance, property and commodity taxation, bylaw-making, and so forth. Band councils function under the Indian Act very much like small municipal governments, and they have the same business and litigation needs as any local authority.

    We have extensive experience in providing Indian Act advice to First Nations. Moreover, we are currently involved in negotiating agreements with the federal government in areas of governance and taxation.

  • Duty of Consultation

    There has grown, as a subset of “section 35” rights, a distinct body of law respecting the Crown’s fiduciary duty to consult with First Nations respecting land use decisions that affect aboriginal and treaty rights protected under section 35. This “duty to consult” has resulted in formal consultation policies being adopted by various provincial governments and negotiations between the Crown and First Nations for large resource development, particularly in light of the Haida and Mikisew decisions by the Supreme Court of Canada.

    Our firm can assist in all aspects of the consultation process, from assisting First Nations to set up their own distinct consultation process through to the actual consultation with governments to the negotiations of impact and benefits agreements with resource companies. We also assist First Nations to challenge land-use decisions made by government without adequate consultation.

    Our legal advice on economic development assists Aboriginal entities with the development (and protection) of business opportunities. We also provide advice – in certain circumstances – to industry and government on effective economic development with Aboriginal entities.

    Representative Experience:

    • Structuring and drafting of trusts, joint ventures and partnerships across a wide range of resource and other business sectors including forestry, construction, camps, catering, medic, mulching and, ferry and helicopter companies
    • Advice on tax issues (such as planning), including Indian Act and Income Tax Exemptions for First Nations, Métis, and Inuit
    • Advice on banking and other financial structuring
    • Advice on development of reserve lands
    • Advice on the negotiation and drafting for major commercial real estate transactions
    • Providing a wide range of corporate work including purchase and sale of commercial lands and assets, incorporation and maintenance of corporate entities for economic development projects and joint ventures
    • Advice on the construction of a passenger ferry
    • Trust work for First Nations, Métis, and Inuit for land and cash settlements
    • Tax opinions respecting First Nations and First Nation controlled entities
    • Advice regarding the incorporation of Not-for-profits, including applications for charitable status for First Nations, Métis, and Inuit societies; economic development companies and limited partnerships
    • Drafting Land Codes to accommodate community needs associated with leasing or mortgaging reserve lands
    • Assessing client business organizations and making recommendations based on community needs
    • Development and implementation of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit laws and bylaws