We offer a variety of services to First Nations in the areas of litigation, negotiation, advisory and solicitor services.
Assisting First Nations in meeting their land and resource management objectives is a significant part of the work that we do at Rana Law. We work closely with First Nation leaders, membership and staff to hold the Crown accountable in fulfilling its constitutional duty to consult when making decisions that may adversely impact Treaty and Aboriginal rights.
We advise our clients as they participate in various consultation processes, both on major projects requiring environmental assessments, and in relation to smaller scale Crown action that may adversely impact lands of significance to our clients. Our representation includes negotiating consultation agreements with governments and project proponents, providing legal and strategic advice to our clients in the conduct of the consultation process, including the use of traditional land use studies in the negotiation of mitigation measures and other forms of accommodation, and negotiating impact benefit agreements with proponents.
We also represent First Nations in the negotiation of co-management agreements with the Crown and in the establishment of environmental protection measures over lands of special significance to their communities.get in touch
Crown-First Nation consultation processes often culminate in some form of review by a regulatory board or administrative decision maker such as the Alberta Energy Regulator or the British Columbia Oil and Gas Commission. At Rana Law, we have extensive experience providing legal and strategic advice to First Nations engaged in these regulatory processes, including before the National Energy Board and in environmental assessment processes established by the federal and/or provincial governments for environmental assessments of major projects. We work closely with our clients and their technical advisors to collect and present evidence in these proceedings and, if necessary, represent our clients in judicial reviews challenging the resulting decisions, which often would have a significant adverse effect on First Nations’ rights and interests.get in touch
As experienced litigators, we assist First Nations in advancing and protecting their rights through the courts. We represent our clients on a wide variety of legal matters, from judicial review applications and injunctions to complex treaty interpretation litigation. Our lawyers have appeared before courts of all levels, including trial and appellate courts in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan, all levels of the Federal Court and before the Supreme Court of Canada. We also have experience before a number of administrative tribunals, including the National Energy Board, the former Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board, the Alberta Utilities Commission, the British Columbia Utilities Commission and the British Columbia Forest Appeals Commission.
Our litigation experience includes constitutional issues, including consultation and treaty rights, treaty infringement, treaty interpretation, breach of fiduciary duty and the resolution of commercial disputes. Often our cases involve an extensive historical documentary record relating to events that took place over a century ago, and we work with expert historians and other social scientists to assist the court in interpreting this vast historical record. We also work closely with First Nation elders in the presentation of oral history for cases that require oral history evidence, and we assist First Nations in documenting their historic land use when this evidence will assist with their claims that are before the courts.get in touch
A significant part of our practice is representing First Nations in the federal Crown’s Specific Claims process. Since the establishment of the Specific Claims Tribunal in 2008, First Nations have the opportunity to seek compensation for historic grievances against the federal Crown without being subject to some of the challenges that are associated with other judicial processes. Specific Claims typically concern breaches of fiduciary duty by Canada in the fulfillment of obligations under historic treaties or Canada’s mismanagement of First Nations’ funds, reserve lands or other assets.
We assist First Nations at all stages of the Specific Claims process, from claim submission to resolution before the Specific Claims Tribunal. We research and draft Specific Claims and, when claims are accepted for negotiation we provide both negotiation and legal services to First Nations throughout the process.
We recognize the importance of community involvement in the claims process and work closely with leadership to deliver presentations at community meetings, design and host information workshops and assist with the preparation of newsletters and other communication materials. We also develop meaningful opportunities for membership to participate in working groups and land selection processes, where resolution involves the provision of additional reserve lands.get in touch
Successful litigation outcomes and the resolution of Specific Claims can result in significant monetary awards for First Nations. We work with our clients to structure comprehensive trust agreements following the resolution of legal claims to ensure the long-term management of settlement funds in the best interest of the First Nation. In this context, we provide legal advice to leadership on their fiduciary obligations in relation to claims settlement and the use of settlement funds.
The development of First Nation trust agreements requires community participation, and we organize workshops and other forms of community engagement to inform members about the role of trust agreements in the management of their settlement funds and to seek their input. We also assist our clients in establishing selection processes for administrative or corporate trustees and we act as legal counsel to the trust post-settlement.get in touch
Economic development can provide First Nations with the tools to successfully plan for the long-term well being of their communities. We work with our clients to develop economic development strategies, including the negotiation of impact benefit agreements and commercial agreements to capitalize on both on and off reserve business opportunities. We also assist our clients in the management of reserve lands and the negotiation of agreements for third party use of reserve lands.
Claims settlements provide significant opportunities for the development and implementation of economic development strategies, including the acquisition of land to be held in fee simple or added to reserve under the federal Additions to Reserve Policy. We work with our clients on land acquisition, the development of corporate structures to hold and develop the land and on the negotiation and implementation of development agreements. Where the economic development strategy requires reserve land, we assist our clients in navigating though the federal Additions to Reserve process.get in touch
As First Nations reclaim authority over their own legal and governance systems, the need for legal advice in the implementation of these systems becomes increasingly important. We assist First Nations’ governments in a variety of governance matters, including the drafting of membership codes, governance codes, election codes, bylaws and policies. We also have experience advising First Nations on employment law matters, including discipline and termination issues and we draft employment policies, employment contracts, and human resource policies and procedures.
We work with First Nations operating under the Indian Act and assist First Nations that choose to opt out of certain sections of the Indian Act where legislated alternatives have been developed, including the First Nations Land Management Act. We assist First Nations who choose to opt into the First Nations Fiscal Management Act and develop their own Financial Administration Law and also we represent First Nations negotiating self-government agreements with the federal Crown.get in touch