Practice

Dionne Schulze offers legal advice and representation in a variety of areas, especially in relation to Aboriginal Peoples. Its lawyers are highly experienced and the founding partners rank among the best Aboriginal law specialists in the country, according to the annual “Best Lawyers in Canada” publication.

Aboriginal rights

Our firm has a particular expertise dealing with consultation and accommodation of Aboriginal peoples with respect to projects on their territory, an expertise which includes the negotiation of the Impact and Benefit Agreements (IBAs) which may result.

We also specialize in both the negotiation and litigation of land claims and treaty issues, including specific claims.

We have often represented First Nations individuals accused of violating provincial and federal laws with respect to hunting, fishing, trapping and harvesting.

We have also represented former pupils of residential schools in their efforts to obtain monetary compensation in accordance with the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, as well as other victims of abuse in institutional settings.

Constitutional law, rights, and freedoms

We have substantial experience in litigating constitutional issues, particularly the separation of powers between the federal and provincial governments and equality rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Environmental law

We represent and advise our clients on environmental assessments under federal and provincial laws, as well as under the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, both with respect to their participation and with respect to the legality of the decision making.

Business, corporate and tax law

We routinely deal with tax matters affecting Aboriginal people, including commercial transactions. We are also involved in the negotiation and drafting of commercial agreements, such as joint venture, sales agreement, licenses and limited partnerships. We advise on corporate matters for profit and not-for-profit entities, such as incorporations, filings, resolutions, meetings and rights and responsibilities of directors.

Governance, by-laws and policy

We regularly advise First Nations who wish to adopt policies or by-laws for better governance. In particular, we work on resolutions, by-laws, codes of ethics, membership codes and election codes.

Civil litigation / Administrative law / Judicial review

Our civil law practice includes drafting legal opinions and representation before the courts. Our litigation practice also includes judicial review of government action, particularly with respect to government decisions which affect our aboriginal clients. Members of our firm have appeared before all levels of court, both federal and provincial, including the Supreme Court of Canada.

Property and housing law

We have an expertise in the special rules which apply to land held on reserve under the Indian Act. In particular, we advise our clients on the rights of non-aboriginals to use reserve lands, in both commercial and residential settings. We also offer advice on housing and home ownership policies. We recently contributed to clarifying the situation of Band Councils with respect to federal loans for housing and the related ministerial guarantees.

Employment law and the protection of privacy

We help our clients draft and apply policies on employment and the protection of personal information. We also advise them on employee dismissal and human rights complaints.

Class actions

We have successfully filed and settled class actions. We have been involved in class actions on issues including the legality of provincial tax and the liability of institutions for sexual abuse.

Intellectual property and traditional knowledge

We provide advice on and participate in the drafting of agreements and policies on the protection of intellectual property, of traditional knowledge, and of information collected from Aboriginal communities.

International law

Our firm follows international developments in Aboriginal and human rights, and members of our firm have appeared before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

Quebec and federal law

Our lawyers, who are trained both in the civil law of Quebec and the common law, are all called to the Bar of Québec. We are fully bilingual in French and English.

The firm’s commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’ calls for action

In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) released its report on the history of residential schools and their impact on Aboriginal communities across Canada.

The TRC also launched 94 Calls to Action to the Canadian society as a whole to transform its relationship with Aboriginal peoples and continue the work of healing and reconciliation initiated by the TRC.

Among these Calls to Action, several are aimed at the legal community, in particular:

27. We call upon the Federation of Law Societies of Canada to ensure that lawyers receive appropriate cultural competency training, which includes the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal-Crown relations. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.

28. We call upon law schools in Canada to require all law students to take a course in Aboriginal people and the law, which includes the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal–Crown relations. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and antiracism.

Our firm takes these Calls to Action to heart and implements them through various activities.

For example, our lawyers regularly give lectures on issues pertaining to Aboriginal Peoples’ rights (see below), including to audiences composed of lawyers and law students. They have also published papers on reconciliation and Aboriginal Peoples’ rights, in Canada and abroad.

Many of our lawyers also represented residential school survivors as part of the Independent Assessment Process.

Not only are our lawyers particularly aware of the legacy of residential schools, but they also understand and measure the magnitude of the personal and intergenerational impacts that residential schools have had on survivors’ lives. They have had the privilege of earning the trust of several survivors to represent them and to accompany them throughout this important and significant process. While respecting the confidentiality that protects our clients, our lawyers are committed to seeing that the judicial actors and the general public recognize the legacy of the residential schools.

Lawyers in our firm are also committed to the rights of Aboriginal people outside of the firm. For example, Marie-Eve Dumont sits on the board of directors of Projets Autochtones du Québec (Aboriginal Projects of Quebec) and Jameela Jeeroburkhan acts as a supervising-lawyer for the McGill Legal Clinic at the Native Friendship Centre of Montreal.

We believe that Canadian law societies and law schools across Canada should take concrete measures to implement the TRC’s recommendations. To this end, members of the firm offer their time and expertise to the Barreau du Québec in any effort to respond positively to Call to Action #27 and other recommendations of the TRC. Ms. Jeeroburkhan also chairs a working group within the Canadian Bar Association developing ongoing responses to Calls to Action within this organization. In August 2016, the CBA adopted a resolution to take internal action in support of the TRC’s Calls to Action.

Finally, we are always happy to welcome Aboriginal students, articling students or lawyers in our team to assist in the training of legal experts from Aboriginal communities, as well as to engage Aboriginal youth interested in a legal career.

Conferences

  • David Schulze, “Human Rights Complaints: Aboriginal Inequality and Canadian Law”, Canadian Aboriginal Law 2013 symposium, Pacific Business and Law Institute, Ottawa, 2013.

  • David Schulze, “The McIvor Decision and Its Impact”, Canadian Aboriginal Law 2009 symposium, Pacific Business and Law Institute, Ottawa, 2009.

  • Paul Dionne, “Une politique de consultation des peuples autochtones pour le Québec ?”, Insight Conference, Montreal, 2006.

  • Paul Dionne, “L’obligation extra-statutaire de consultation et d’accommodement des peuples autochtones dans le cadre des projets de développement des ressources naturelles”, Insight Conference, Quebec, 2004.

  • Elisabeth Patterson, “The Protection of Indigenous Medical Knowledge”, McGill University, 2016.

  • Elisabeth Patterson, “Does the duty to accommodate reach its objectives: a comparative perspective in international and Canadian law”, Symposium at the Law department of the University of Montreal, 2015.

  • Jameela Jeeroburkhan, “The Truth and Reconciliation’s Calls to Action: Taking Action towards Reconciliation”, Forum of public sector jurists, Canadian Bar Association, 2016.

  • Jameela Jeeroburkhan, “La pratique du droit autochtone au Québec”, Workshop of the Canadian Muslim Lawyers’ Association, 2016.

  • Marie-Eve Dumont, “Les pensionnats indiens et les mécanismes d’indemnisation des survivants”, in the context of the Aboriginal Law class, University of Quebec in Montreal, 2016.

  • Marie-Eve Dumont, “Aptitudes interculturelles à l’égard d’une clientèle autochtone”, in the context of the Aboriginal Law class, University of Quebec in Montreal, 2017.

  • Marie-Eve Dumont et Nicholas Dodd, “Formation interculturelle – Aptitudes interculturelles à l’égard d’une clientèle autochtone”, McGill University, 2015.

  • Charlotte Chicoine-Wilson, “La reconnaissance constitutionnelle de la justice autochtone en Colombie”, Summer school program – Pluralisme juridique et peuples autochtones (Legal Pluralism and Aboriginal Peoples), University of Laval, 2016.

  • Charlotte Chicoine-Wilson, “La relation entre les systèmes de résolution de conflit étatique et autochtone en Colombie”, in the context of the Criminal Law class, University of Ottawa, 2016.