Canada | Law

Column: Aboriginal issues a growing area of law inside Canada




"Thomas Isaac can hardly believe how the world of aboriginal law has changed.

Mr. Isaac is leader of the national aboriginal law group at McCarthy Tétrault LLP and is, according to Chambers Global 2012, Canada’s leading expert on aboriginal law.

He became interested in aboriginal issues as a university student in the early 1980s. The Constitution Act of 1982 had inserted special rights for aboriginal people. That caught his attention, and he signed up for a special class on aboriginal law. No one else seemed all that interested at the time, he recalls. There were just three people in the class: he and two other people from the professor’s reserve. “Now these classes are among the most popular across the country, whether it’s in law school or in the social science area.”

Indeed, interest in aboriginal law is soaring. A wave of court decisions put a constitutional duty on the Crown to consult First Nations before approving any project that might affect native lands.

As a practical matter, responsibility for fulfilling this duty has fallen to the companies that want to build such projects in Canada. Law firms are developing sophisticated practices designed to help clients in the mining, energy, electricity and pipeline businesses fulfill that duty."

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Drew Hasselback / Legal Post: Native issues a growing area of law (Financial Post 7/18)