We work with a broad range of First Nation-owned businesses, Tribal Councils, and Indigenous Political and Treaty Based Organizations across Canada, in all aspects of economic and commercial development, and constitutional and treaty entitlements. We can help with structuring First Nation-owned businesses, establishment of trusts, corporations and partnerships, taxation, and the financing of economic development projects, to maximize returns on investment to owners and other objectives our clients have.
Pitblado Law has developed trusted and valued relationships with Chiefs, economic development professionals, Tribal Council leadership, and other visionaries and leaders in Manitoba’s First Nations community. Your Pitblado Law lawyer is deeply respectful of Indigenous people, history, and tradition and is proud to work with Indigenous communities in the spirit of reconciliation and progress. We are also proud to work with businesses looking for partnerships with the Indigenous community, with an eye to designing win-win solutions for all stakeholders.
Our Indigenous Law group has extensive experience in proudly representing First Nations’ interests at a wide variety of regional and national administrative tribunals, and all court levels including the Supreme Court of Canada. We have the necessary background and experience to help our clients achieve their goals. We offer services in:
- Economic Development and Business Structuring: We have extensive experience advising on the design and structure of economic vehicles for the creation of own source revenue streams that maximize tax advantages, governance, and self-determination objectives for our clients.
- Employment: We support First Nations through advising and representing on employment matters, such as employment contracts and dismissals, including the unique jurisdictional and taxation issues that apply in the Aboriginal context. We also assist First Nations in crafting their own laws and policies on employment matters.
- Financing for Indigenous Projects : We advise a broad range of First Nations and local and national lending institutions on specific financing and securitization issues that arise in the Indigenous context, including borrowings through the First Nation Finance Authority. We work to maximize affordable borrowing capacities for our Indigenous clients. Because we routinely provide advice on large structured multi-party financings, we have insights into financing options that are helpful to our First Nation clients.
- First Nation Taxation: We help First Nations navigate specific taxation issues that arise in the Indigenous context, including: tax planning through appropriate structuring, employment and business taxation, and minimizing liabilities arising from provincial and federal taxation laws and policies, and integrate that tax planning in the context of your specific needs.
- Gaming: We advise and draft Gaming Centre and VLT Site Holder Agreements, and related management and procurement agreements, on behalf of First Nations. We are extensively experienced with advising, negotiating, and drafting complicated secured financing transactions for casino and hotel property developments on reserve lands, including regulatory approvals.
- Governance: We lend strategic insight in drafting governance models that work to fulfill our clients’ objectives and mandates, including the development of First Nation laws, workable corporate board structures, and multi-Nation organizational structures. Some of the multi-party corporations we currently advise are: One North; Grand Council Treaty #3; Southeast Resource Development Corporation; and Tribal Councils Investment Group of Manitoba Ltd.
- Impact Benefit Agreements: We help clients navigate complex matters, including negotiating and advising on memoranda of understanding, letters of intent, consultation protocols and term sheets, as well as exploration, collaboration and impact benefit agreements between First Nations and businesses in many different industries.
- Indigenous Peoples Individual and Family Entrepreneurship Advice and Coaching: We provide legal advice, negotiation, advocacy, relationship building, and facilitation in ways that are intended to empower individuals to be able to create and operate their own businesses that are consistent with their values and cultures. Through forming valuable relationships with our clients, we believe that we can help multiple generations of families seeking to engage in modern-day family business ownership and operations models to achieve freedom from dependency.
- Joint Venture and Partnership Agreements: We have extensive experience negotiating and advising on structured economic opportunities between First Nations and industry partners, that maximize the commercial and taxation benefits for all concerned. Our clients can count on us for support and leadership every step of the way.
- Reserve Creation, Land Management and Land Codes: We understand commercial land development both on and off reserve lands and have extensive experience drafting appropriate leases and permits for First Nations and third party developers involved with projects on reserve lands under land codes or designations. We have assisted First Nations and their Trust Corporations in:
- the acquisition of lands for conversion to reserve;
- the designation of lands for commercial purposes; and
- the development of Land Codes.
- Restorative Justice and Sharing Circle Facilitation: When applicable, we can help clients with the learning and healing process of conflict resolution through our experience with Sharing Circle Facilitation. In these cases, we custom design a process to help each of our clients’ unique situations.
- Treaty, Aboriginal, and Inherent Rights Opinions: We have extensive experience advising on how government actions impact rights, and representing our clients before administrative and regulatory bodies to assert their rights. We also draft potential claims against Canada or for filing with the Specific Claims Tribunals, and provide second opinions to third parties on the strength of claims filed by First Nations.
- Trust Structuring: We are well-versed at drafting and advising First Nations and corporate trustees on settlement and community development trusts, including advising on the unique trustee and taxation issues that apply in the Aboriginal context. We have advised on some of the largest trust settlements in Canada. We also advise Corporate Trustees and First Nation Trusts on the management of their Trust Funds.
Pitblado Law has been at the forefront of some of the most significant projects and legal issues involving Manitoba’s Indigenous communities. Our track record is evidence of our success and our passionate advocacy for our clients. Examples of our work include:
Arctic Gateway Group Limited Partnership (AGG) purchased the Hudson Bay Railway, Port of Churchill and Churchill Marine Tank Farm from OmniTRAX. Pitblado represented 17 communities including First Nations on the acquisition of the rail line from Opaskwayak Cree Nation to Churchill.
Wanipigow Sand Extraction Project. Pitblado represents Canadian Premium Sand Inc. Working collaboratively with all local First Nations and Metis Communities, Pitblado designed economic participation agreements that respect the local laws, constitutional rights, and taxation rights for those potentially impacted by this new $500 million resource development commercial project, to be built in Seymourville, Manitoba. This Project also involved guiding Indigenous and non-Indigenous parties through provincial, federal, and local community regulatory oversight processes including permitting, licensing and zoning, and planning compliance matters.
Building of Freedom Road (Manitoba-Ontario). Pitblado acted for Shoal Lake No. 40 First Nation and its development corporation, advising on business structuring, taxation, and governance matters in preparation for the building of Freedom Road; and negotiated the funding agreements with Canada, Manitoba, and the City of Winnipeg, and joint venture agreements with non-Indigenous parties, related to this $40 million road and bridge construction project.
South Beach Casino and Sand Hills Casino. Pitblado acts for the consortium of First Nation owners of these entities—advising on all facets of these development projects from business structuring and tax advice, land acquisition, financing, building, and managing the long-term operation of these casino and hotel facilities. Our representation involved negotiating a broad range of contractual agreements with levels of government and third-party financiers, as well as navigating the regulatory processes involved, on behalf of our First Nation clients.
Paskwayak Business Development Corporation (PBDC). Pitblado acts for Opaskwayak Cree Nation’s economic development corporation, PBDC, and its affiliated corporations. Pitblado advises on a broad range of business structuring, governance, and taxation matters involving OCN and PBDC, including those involving partnerships with other First Nations and corporations in the cannabis industry, and operating a large commercial complex on reserve lands.
Keeyask Hydropower Limited Partnership. Pitblado acts for Fox Lake Cree Nation, one of the four Indigenous Partners that own the Keeyask Generating Station, with Manitoba Hydro. This partnership involved the negotiation of a ground-breaking agreement with Manitoba Hydro, in which First Nations took an equity position in a public utility.
Waywayseecappo First Nation. We advised on the drafting of the settlement agreement and trust agreement for the largest specific claim settlement award in Canada to date.
Roseau River Annishinabe First Nation Trust. Pitblado is legal counsel to the trust managed primarily for the purpose of purchasing lands for conversion to reserve.