The First Nations Tax Commission is an administrative body established under federal legislation to assist and empower First Nations in the exercise of their taxation jurisdiction on reserve lands. Its work includes setting standards for First Nations’ property tax and other local revenue laws as well as reviewing and approving those laws. For many years, Mandell Pinder has supported the First Nations Tax Commission and its predecessor, the Indian Taxation Advisory Board, in their work to advance self-government for First Nations.
On August 20, 2019, Heiltsuk electors voted in favour of settling Heiltsuk’s herring spawn on kelp (SOK) claim against Canada and approved a settlement agreement, which Canada signed on July 16, 2019. This settlement addressed outstanding issues from the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in R. v. Gladstone, which provided compensation for Canada’s unjustified infringements of Heiltsuk’s commercial Aboriginal right to harvest spawn on kelp. Mandell Pinder assisted the Heiltsuk Tribal Council in the negotiation, drafting, and implementation of the settlement agreement with Canada as well as the trust agreements.
Klahoose First Nation owns and operates several successful businesses and they, like many First Nations, use multiple corporate entities. Mandell Pinder has provided ongoing advice to the Klahoose First Nation Chief and Council on various corporate and Council governance matters and assisted in restructuring the corporate entities to make them more manageable for the members, Council, and the directors involved.
The Supreme Court of Canada confirmed that compensation for breaches of fiduciary duty by the Crown in relation to unlawful interference with reserve lands must reflect the highest value of the lands damaged or taken. Mandell Pinder was counsel to the appellant Lac Seul First Nation and the interveners the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, the Penticton Indian Band, and the Williams Lake First Nation.
The Supreme Court of Canada held that “aboriginal peoples of Canada” in subsection 35(1) of the Constitution Act, 1982, means the modern‑day successors of Aboriginal societies that occupied Canadian territory at the time of European contact, which may include Aboriginal groups that are now outside Canada. Mandell Pinder was counsel to the intervener Okanagan Nation Alliance.
The Supreme Court of Canada affirmed Canada’s legal responsibility for breaches of fiduciary duty committed by the colonial government in failing to protect Indigenous lands. Mandell Pinder was counsel to the appellant Williams Lake First Nation.
Mandell Pinder has always worked to recognize the honour that our clients bestow upon us by asking us to be a part of their work. One of the ways we attempt to do this is by giving back.
We have dedicated ourselves to supporting Indigenous students for many years. With the help of the University of Victoria, we created the Mandell Pinder Indigenous Law Scholar Award, which is awarded annually to deserving students enrolled in the University’s law program. At Langara College, we sponsor the perpetual Mandell Pinder LLP Indigenous Student Scholarship for Indigenous students with demonstrated academic success. Our lawyers share their time and experience coaching students through the University of British Columbia Kawaskimhon Moot Competition and frequently sponsor the University of British Columbia Allard Law Indigenous Legal Studies Reception. We have also trained numerous Indigenous law students, many of whom have gone on to create significant impact in their communities.
Every year we support various grassroots community initiatives, including community level celebrations, student initiatives, emergency relief, and assisting with memorials.
Our most recent support went to the First Peoples’ Cultural Foundation, Full Circle: First Nations Performance Talking Stick Festival, Nlaka’pamux Nation Tribal Council – Lytton Fire Relief Silent Auction, the National Indigenous Law Student Association, and the Union of BC Indian Chiefs.
In addition to the Indigenous communities, we have also supported Aboriginal Lawyers Forum, Canadian Bar Association (BC Branch), Canadian Cancer Society – CIBC Run for the Cure, Canada Helps Org, Cassie & Friends Society, Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre, Georgia Straight Alliance, Joe Arvay Initiative for Public Interest Law, Moccasin Footprint Society – Fraser River Film Project, Pacific Salmon Foundation, VanCity U13Warriors Basketball Team, West Coast Environmental Law, and the Westcoast LEAF Equality Breakfast.
It is the strong and continued support of our peers at Mandell Pinder who have made us who we are today. From our founders to our articling students, administrators and lawyers, the team at Mandell Pinder routinely demonstrates sound leadership and helps foster a deeper understanding of issues faced by Indigenous peoples in Canada and abroad. We have been fortunate over the years to work with some brilliant and interesting people. Here is a small sample of some of our Indigenous alumni.
Myrna is a Métis lawyer from Green Lake in Treaty Six territory and the host of “The Trauma-Informed Lawyer” Podcast. She began her career at Mandell Pinder with the support, commitment, and encouragement of mentors and friends in the firm who invested their time and energy in her success. Prior to founding Miyo Pimatisiwin Legal Services in 2019, Myrna served as an adjudicator in the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement claims process, and Crown Prosecutor with the Ministry of the Attorney General in Saskatchewan. When she is not FaceTiming her three grandchildren, educating, or podcasting, Myrna is advising, advocating, or conducting workplace investigations and reviews. In 2020, the Federal Department of Justice awarded Myrna their first ever Excellence in Legal Practice and Victim Support Award. She lives in North Vancouver, B.C.
Shain Niniwum Selapem Jackson is Coast Salish from the community of shíshálh. He is an artist, and a lawyer who has represented the interests of Indigenous communities and organizations throughout British Columbia in relation to a broad array of issues. Shain began his legal career at Mandell Pinder and after several years left practice to explore the relationship between Indigenous art and law. On this front Shain has advised the highest levels of both the Canadian government and judiciary on Indigenous legal constructs. He is currently the president of Spirit Works Limited, a company focused on the design, creation, and distribution of Indigenous art. He is also the Executive Director of Golden Eagle Rising Society, an organization whose mandate is the protection of Indigenous lives.
Douglas White, B.A., J.D., Q.C. is a member and former Chief of the Snuneymuxw First Nation. His Coast Salish name is Kwul’a’sul’tun and his Nuu-chah-nulth name is Tlii’shin. After completing his B.A. in First Nations Studies (with distinction) from Malaspina University-College, he graduated from the Faculty of Law at the University of Victoria in 2006. He was called to the Bar of British Columbia in January 2008 and spent some of his early time as a lawyer with Mandell Pinder before being elected as Chief to his own community from 2009-2014, then as a councillor from 2015-2020. In 2022, Doug was appointed Special Counsel to the Premier on Indigenous Reconciliation. Doug is a lawyer, politician, educator, and negotiator. He is foremost a passionate and intelligent person dedicating his time to furthering the recognition of Indigenous rights at home and internationally.
Rosalie is a Syilx lawyer from the Okanagan Indian Band with ancestral ties to the Secwepemc Nation. Rosalie articled with Mandell Pinder LLP and is currently the vice-chair of the B.C. First Nations Justice Council and general counsel to the Chiefs Executive Council of the Syilx Okanagan Nation. She was previously a member of the Law Society of B.C.’s Truth and Reconciliation Advisory Committee. In addition to her law degree, Rosalie also holds an MBA from Simon Fraser University. Rosalie is a passionate champion for Nation building approaches based in traditional governance values, customs, and First Nations legal traditions.