From its harsh geography to its complex regulatory regimes, Canada's North poses unique challenges for businesses, institutions and governments alike. To thrive in this region, you need a team with comprehensive on-the-ground experience and sophisticated technical knowledge across a number of sectors.
Gowling WLG has a rich history of working in the North, and brings a deep commitment to the region and its people to every task. With leading expertise in corporate commercial, environmental, mining, Indigenous, procurement and energy law, our professionals can help you identify rare opportunities and overcome difficult obstacles.
Whether you're looking to draft an exploration joint venture agreement, seek approvals for major infrastructure projects, or forge meaningful connections around the world, our team can help you succeed.
Northern experience you can trust
Our professionals have a long history of working in Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, Yukon, and the northern regions of many provinces on a range of diverse matters. We understand the unique interests, opportunities and challenges that clients operating in the North experience - from the intricate set of regulatory and legal fundamentals not seen elsewhere in Canada to the daily realities of doing business in remote areas. Our professionals also have a thorough grasp on ongoing socio-political, commercial and environmental developments affecting the region.
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With industry-leading expertise in a number of areas - including environmental, Indigenous, mining and natural resources, energy, and corporate commercial law, as well as advocacy - we have the talent you need to thrive in any sector. We deal frequently with issues that reflect the modern treaty making experience in the North, and our practice encompasses the full breadth of commercial and regulatory activities that underlie most economic activity across the region. Our clients include Indigenous organizations, corporations, mining companies, territorial governments, hamlets and institutions.
Highlights in Northern Canada
- Legal Counsel for Deline Land Corporation (NWT) culminating in the Deline Final-Self-Government Agreement, the first community self-government agreement in Canada, (2003-2016).
- Legal Counsel for the Gwich'in Tribal Council in negotiations leading to the NWT Devolution Agreement, (2012-2014).
- Represented of the Gwich'in Tribal Council on the NWT Working Group to revise the Wildlife Act (NWT) in accordance with the land claims agreements, (2005-2013). Recognized by NWT Premier's Award in 2014.
- Ross River Dena Council Band v. Canada, 2002 SCC 54 (status of lands set aside for Indians in Yukon). Counsel for Ross River.
- Native Women's Association of Canada v. The Queen  3 SCR 627. Counsel for intervener Inuit Tapirisat of Canada (Charter right to equal government funding for aboriginal organizations).
- Advised the Government of Nunavut and the Office of the Interim Commission on the constitutional/legal issues of becoming a Territory.
- Following the division of the NWT, strategic and legal advice was provided to the Nunavut Department of Finance on infrastructure and fiscal issues.
- Construction claims strategic advice and litigation services (including arbitration) to the Government of Nunavut.
- Counsel to the Government of Nunavut in environmental assessment proceedings and a variety of natural resource and environmental issues over the past several years.
- Counsel to a territorial government on significant natural resource jurisdictional matters and related inter-jurisdictional negotiations.
- Defended all three territorial governments against the francophone community that sued the three respective governments for expansions to their schools, under s. 23 of the Charter.
- Adviser to Marten Falls First Nation and have been working with the Matawa group of First Nations in relation to proposed development activity in the ring of fire. Work included providing advice in relation to regulatory matters, jurisdictional issues, IBA negotiations and environmental advice.
- Acted for Gwich'in Tribal Council in regard to Caribou harvesting rights.
- Advised ArcelorMittal with respect to the availability of tax deductions for employees working in the North.
- Advised Compass Canada on various matters including Limited Partnership and other structures with multiple Indigenous Groups.
- Acted for the Bank of Nova Scotia in relation to Norterra Inc. with regard to transportation, logistics, manufacturing and distribution throughout the NWT.
- Advised on the administration of federal capital transfers made in satisfaction of land settlement claims. Such advice includes assistance with investments made in alternative asset classes, such as infrastructure assets, real estate and debt securities, either directly or through pooled fund vehicles.
- General Counsel to the Trustees of Nunavut Trust since 2002.
- Counsel to the Gwich'in Council International on matters related to the development of pan-arctic best practices for environmental assessment alongside other permanent participants and members of the Arctic Council.
- Counsel to Northland Power on environmental and Indigenous relations matters related to northern renewable power generation projects.
- Counsel to a variety of mining exploration companies on matters related to the development of business relationships and the negotiation of impact and benefit agreements in the NWT.
- Counsel to several significant investors in mining operations located in Nunavut and the NWT on matters related to Impact and Benefit Agreement assessment and development and the assessment of environmental and other permits.
- Counsel to a Nunavut-based Drone operations enterprise.
- Acted for Tarion Warranty Corporation on multiple cases related to the Ontario Building Code and building requirement in Northern Ontario.
- On behalf of Houston based Arctic Gas Corp, negotiation of a multi-stake holder program management agreement pertaining to the Northern Route Gas Pipeline from the north slope of Alaska via the McKenzie Valley to Alberta then onto US Midwest customers.
- Consultation and Negotiation of rights-of-way, access and cooperation arrangements with Sahtu, Gwich'in, Inuvialuit and Deh Cho Tribal Councils, Secretariats, First Nations, Bands and Corporations in relation to the proposed Northern Route Gas Pipeline Project.
- Consultation, support and right to participate memorandums of agreement with the Tli Cho, Deh Cho, Akaitcho and the Métis of the North Slave in relation to a proposed fuel pipe line from Enterprise, NWT to the diamond mines on behalf of Flashpoint Facilitators.
- Submission of a preliminary information package to the NEB for the Northern Gas Pipeline Project and participation in the associated early public hearings and consultations with impacted communities, landowners, trapper associations, Aboriginal councils and representative entities, environmental groups, governments and other stakeholders.
- Consultation and negotiation of cooperation agreements, access, benefits plans, impact agreements and socio-economic monitoring plans with numerous Northern aboriginal groups in relation to oil & gas activities, pipelines and production facilities.
- Represented the Det'on Cho Corporation (Yellowknives Dene) on several corporate and joint venture matters relating to various services agreements including camp catering, winter road building, maintenance and aviation.
- Negotiated the construction, ownership, operating, gathering, processing, transportation, sales, distribution and management documentation associated with the first Canadian commercial natural gas development project north of the Arctic Circle.
Widely regarded as leaders in their fields, members of our team have been repeatedly recognized by Chambers, Lexpert and Legal 500 and other top legal guides and directories. A number of our professionals also hold the prestigious Certified Specialist in Environmental Law title from the Law Society of Upper Canada, among other advanced designations.
With offices in 18 cities in the UK, Canada, Continental Europe, Asia and the Middle East, we have the ability to assemble international teams and seamlessly connect even the most remote locations to the global business community.
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To learn more about how we can help you succeed in the North, please contact one of our leaders or reach out to any member of our team.