John Gailus

  • John Gailus
    Tel: 250.514.9955
    Fax: 250.361.9429

  • John was one of the founding partners of Devlin Gailus, the predecessor to DGW Law Corporation.

    John graduated from the University of Alberta in 1993. He spent four and one-half years working at the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (“DIAND”) as the Senior Land Management & Leasing Officer for the west coast of British Columbia. At DIAND he developed an expertise in economic development of reserve land.

    John parlayed his DIAND experience into a varied law practice focused on consultation, Aboriginal and Treaty rights litigation, Indian Act issues and economic development.

    John has appeared multiple times at the Supreme Court of Canada, British Columbia Court of Appeal and British Columbia Supreme Court, as well as the Federal Courts. He was also counsel for several First Nations during the Cohen Commission Salmon Inquiry, Site C Joint Review Panel and the National Energy Board Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion hearings.

    John has appeared on multiple occasions before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs as an expert witness on proposed changes to the Indian Act and Aboriginal economic development. He is a regular speaker at conferences and continuing legal education events.

    John is a member of the Haida Nation and the Cumshewa Clan.

    Representative Experience:


    Supreme Court of Canada

    • Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia, 2014 SCC 44
      Counsel for Interveners, Tsawout, Tsartlip, Snuneymuxw & Kwakiutl First Nations
    • Sally Behn, et al. v. Moulton Contracting, et al.,2013 SCC 26
      Counsel for Intervener, Chief Sally Sam & Maiyoo Keyoh Society
    • NIL/TU’O Child & Family Services Society v. BCGEU, 2010 SCC 45, [2010][/2010] 2 S.C.R. 696
      Counsel for Intervener, Kwumut Lelum Child & Family Services Society

    BC Court of Appeal

    • William v. British Columbia, 2012 BCCA 285
      Counsel for Intervener, Treaty 8 First Nations
    • Gitga’at Development Corp. v. Hill, 2007 BCCA 158
      Counsel for Petitioner, Gitga’at Development Corporation


    • Commission of Inquiry Into The Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River (Cohen Commission) – October 2010 – September 2011
      Counsel for Western Central Coast Salish Standing Group (Cowichan, Penelakut, Hwlitsum, Chemainus First Nations & Te’mexw Treaty Association)
    • Site C Joint Review Panel – May 2011 – October 13, 2014
      Counsel for Halfway River, Prophet River, Doig River & West Moberly First Nations
    • Trans Mountain Expansion Project – National Energy Board – ongoing
      Counsel for Shackan Indian Band


    • Counsel for several First Nations negotiating Economic Benefits Agreements and Collaborative Management Agreements with British Columbia Government
    • Represented several First Nations in the negotiation of Impact Benefit Agreements in the wind and run-of-river sector
    • Ongoing involvement in the drafting and negotiation of specific claims as well as comprehensive claims negotiations

    Economic Development

    • Counsel for First Nations and First Nations controlled-entities on several on-reserve developments, including: pre-paid 99 year condominium leases, shopping centres, office buildings and First Nation heritage centre
    • Frequent advisor to First Nations and First Nation owned entities on proper business structures and tax planning
    • Assistance with financing for First Nation-owned forestry, fishing, shellfish aquaculture and energy generation businesses

    Strategic Planning

    • Counsel to First Nations Child and Family Services Agencies seeking delegated child welfare authorities from the Province
    • Assist First Nations with the development of governance materials and the development of policies
    • Drafting of laws and bylaws to assist First Nations in managing their own affairs
    • Provide strategic employment advice to First Nations’ employers

    Professional and Community Activities:

    • Member of the Law Society of British Columbia since May, 2000
    • Member at Large, CBA’s Aboriginal Law Section
    • Frequent author and conference presenter on Aboriginal law issues
    • Regular Presenter at Continuing Legal Education and Aboriginal law conferences
    • Guest instructor in Aboriginal law issues at the Faculty of Law, University of Victoria

    For a list of John’s published articles and speaking engagements, please click here.

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