• Early Years at UBCIC

    In the early 1980s, First Nations’ struggles to gain recognition of their Aboriginal title and rights within the Canadian legal system were gaining momentum.

    Under the leadership and direction of Grand Chief George Manuel, Louise Mandell, Leslie Pinder and Clarine Ostrove worked as in-house legal counsel at the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs (“UBCIC”). One of the highlights of these early years was going to London in 1981 to give instructions for the commencement of the lawsuit to oppose the patriation of the Canadian Constitution. The historic “Constitution Express” galvanized Aboriginal peoples in a strong, unified determination to protect and advance their rights.

    Mandell Pinder was founded to provide legal assistance to support the struggle for recognition. With the goal of responding to the visions and needs of Aboriginal governments, our firm has developed a broad spectrum of expertise and a strong team.

  • Establishment of Mandell Pinder

    In April 1983, with UBCIC’s encouragement and support, the three lawyers and their assistants, Regina Terry and Chris Clark, started Mandell Pinder. The partners began working for Aboriginal governments at Band, tribal, provincial and national levels. Brenda Gaertner joined the firm in 1986 and, along with contributing to the firm’s title and rights expertise, she expanded the negotiations and economic development practice of the firm.

  • Helping to Develop the Law

    From the outset, the firm’s mission has been to assist Aboriginal Peoples to achieve recognition of their title and rights and to develop prosperous, sustainable communities. The firm advanced its clients’ interests through the determination by the Supreme Court of Canada that there is, under the Canadian Constitution, an existing Aboriginal right to fish (R. v. Sparrow, R. v. Van der Peet), and that Aboriginal title is an existing legal right that is not extinguished in British Columbia (Delgamuukw v. British Columbia). In Blueberry River Indian Band v. Canada (Department of Indian Affairs), a Treaty reserve case, the firm made important advances in the law of the Crown’s fiduciary obligations towards Aboriginal peoples.

    Later, the firm spearheaded landmark Supreme Court of Canada rulings, such as Haida Nation et al. v. British Columbia (Minister of Forests) et al. (confirming the Crown’s consultation and accommodation obligations), Osoyoos Indian Band v. Oliver (Town) (defining the Crown’s fiduciary obligations in relation to the taking of reserve lands), and R. v. Morris (establishing the Treaty right to night hunting). Mandell Pinder also participated in the Supreme Court of Canada victory in R. v. Sappier; R. v. Gray, the first case to establish the Aboriginal right to harvest timber for community purposes.

    Over the years, Mandell Pinder LLP has continued to broaden its services to meet the evolving needs of Aboriginal governments. Creativity, commitment and determination have been required, including, for example: assisting in the development of modern legal frameworks for exercising Aboriginal and Treaty rights; promoting reconciliation through various legal strategies; negotiating accommodations for past and ongoing impacts associated with resource extraction; and developing unique land tenures models to secure economic development on and off reserve.

  • Mandell Pinder Expands

    Our partnership has continued to expand over the years. Maria Morellato Q.C. joined in 2009, and in 2016 was appointed to the British Columbia Supreme Court. In 2010, Jim Reynolds and Janelle Dwyer joined the partnership. Janelle Dwyer brings depth to the firm’s land development and corporate/commercial work. Jim Reynolds retired from the partnership in 2016, but continues to work with our firm as Associate Counsel, applying his many years of experience in real estate and business related matters for First Nations.

    In 2014, Cheryl Sharvit became a partner, bringing experience in natural resource management law focusing on the interplay between resource management and Aboriginal and Treaty rights.

    Rosanne Kyle joined our partnership in 2015. Rosanne has extensive experience providing advice to First Nations on Aboriginal rights issues, whether they arise in a litigation context, an environmental assessment or other regulatory process, or at the negotiation table.

  • Mandell Pinder LLP Today

    Mandell Pinder LLP’s legal team continues to expand. Yet we remain a small firm able to deliver professional integrated services to First Nations governments. The firm’s growth reflects an increasing diversity of expertise and skill, including:  Aboriginal institution-building; social, business and economic development; employment; environmental assessments; and legal and governance structures to reconcile Aboriginal and Crown interests. We are assisting First Nations in developing innovative approaches to impact benefit agreements, negotiated models for reconciliation and shared decision-making and frameworks for the implementation of Indigenous laws and legal orders.

    One of the firm’s strengths is our ability to respond to the unique challenges facing Aboriginal peoples and their governments. We identify options for real solutions, and then pursue those options creatively, energetically and diligently. All of this is achieved using a collaborative, team approach, bringing to each project a profound depth and breadth of experience and expertise from the diverse backgrounds of the partners and associates in the firm.