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Environment • Aboriginal • Energy

Nicole Petersen


T: 416-642-4872  E:


Nicole Petersen has a broad practice including environmental law, environmental litigation, energy and natural resources law and Aboriginal law. Nicole is called to the bar of Ontario.

Environmental Law

Nicole assists clients with environmental regulatory process and compliance, and environmental law issues connected with flooding, contaminated soil and groundwater, spills response and discharges. She also assists clients with environmental aspects of corporate and commercial transactions including property transactions, leases and tenant issues.

Environmental Litigation

  • Environmental civil litigation
  • Defence of environmental regulatory prosecutions
  • Administrative appeals and hearings

Nicole helps clients with all aspects of environmental litigation and provides assistance with environmental regulatory investigations. Nicole also advises insurance companies and their insureds on environmental issues that give rise to claims.

Aboriginal Law and Natural Resource Projects

Nicole assists First Nations, business and government clients to build agreements and navigate regulatory processes connected with natural resource projects.


Nicole assists Inuit communities, resource proponents and northern environmental boards with environmental law issues and natural resource and infrastructure development projects in Canada’s northern regions.

Prior Environmental and Aboriginal Experience

During Nicole's J.D. program at Osgoode Hall Law School, she completed the Osgoode Intensive Program in Aboriginal Lands, Resources and Governments. As part of this program, she completed a two-month internship at West Coast Environmental Law in Vancouver, B.C. Nicole also completed a three-month internship in the Philippines where she was involved in a legal education initiative providing community-level advice on environmental and indigenous legal issues.

In law school, Nicole also obtained First Place in the 2012 West Coast Environmental Law Twitter Moot and attended the 2013 Kawaskimhon Aboriginal Law Moot. Nicole also served on the Executive Committee of the Osgoode Environmental Law Society for three years.

Nicole was and continues to be a key volunteer for the Willms & Shier Environmental Law Moots in 2011, 2013 and 2015.


  • Aboriginal, Inuit and Métis communities
  • Municipalities
  • Conservation authorities
  • Transit authorities
  • Environmental and energy boards and tribunals, including northern boards and tribunals
  • Northern resource, energy and infrastructure proponents
  • Mining and exploration, energy, natural resource and infrastructure companies
  • Land developers, property owners, landlords & tenants
  • Industrial companies
  • Insurers and financial institutions
  • Individuals  

Representative Work

Environmental Law

  • Municipality Approval of Plan of Subdivision—Helped a municipality understand options under the Planning Act to compel a developer to update a Record of Site Condition from 2004 to 2011 standards before approving a draft plan of subdivision.
  • Purchase of Contaminated Harbour by Municipality—Assisted a municipality to understand civil and regulatory risks and liabilities that could arise from assuming ownership of a contaminated harbor. 
  • Insurance Coverage Opinion—Reviewed the terms of an environmental insurance policy after contamination was discovered at one of the policyholder’s properties. Provided an opinion to the insurer about coverage to the policyholder.

Environmental and Energy Litigation

  • Conservation Authority Intervention in Pipeline Application—Worked with a conservation authority to participate in the National Energy Board hearings on the Enbridge Line 9B pipeline application. Helped the client target their submissions for maximum impact in coordination with other participants.
  • Community Opposition to Rifle Range—Assisted a community group with advocacy before a municipal council about a proposed rifle range in a semi-rural area. Conducted research to assist the Mayor and Council to understand noise regulations and standards and to interpret technical studies.
  • Transit Authority Involved in Civil Claims—Assisted a transportation authority with various matters relating to environmental civil claims.

Aboriginal Law and Natural Resource Projects

  • First Nation IBA Regarding Mining Project—Assisted a First Nation to negotiate an Impact Benefit Agreement with the proponent of a major gold mine project in Ontario.
  • First Nation Participation in Pipeline Hearing—Assisting a First Nation to participate in the regulatory process for a major pipeline project.


  • Administrative Body Reviewing Land Use Planning—Providing advice to an administrative entity about jurisdictional issues related to regional land use planning.
  • Administrative Body Reviewing Land Use Planning—Providing advice to an administrative entity about jurisdictional issues related to regional land use planning.




  • Canadian Bar Association—member
  • Ontario Bar Association—member
  • Ontario Bar Association, Aboriginal Law Section Executive—member
  • Women's Law Association of Ontario (WLAO)—Board member, chair Communications
  • Young Lawyers Chapter—Committee member, co-chair mentorship





November 10, 2017

Supreme Court Finds Development of Jumbo Valley Ski Resort Does Not Impair Ktunaxa Nation’s Freedom of Religion

In Ktunaxa Nation v British Columbia, the Supreme Court considered the application of freedom of religion to Indigenous spirituality for the first ...


August 21, 2017

Wind Farm Approval Revoked Due to Human Safety Concerns

On August 16, 2017 the Environmental Review Tribunal (the "Tribunal") released its decision in Wiggins v Ontario (Environment and Climate Change), ...


July 31, 2017

Heavy Lies the Head that Wears the Crown: SCC Delivers Clyde River and Chippewas Judgments

On July 26, 2017, the Supreme Court of Canada released its unanimous decisions in Clyde River (Hamlet) v Petroleum Geo-Services Inc. and Chippewas ...


July 25, 2017

Saugeen First Nation v Ontario: Court Comments on Crown Role and Consultation Funding

The Ontario Divisional Court recently released its decision in Saugeen First Nation v Ontario.  In many ways, this decision describes a case s...


July 17, 2017

BC Court Declines to Issue Injunction in Aboriginal Treaty Rights Case

The Supreme Court of British Columbia recently released its decision in Yahey v British Columbia. The Court clarified the requirements for Aborigin...


May 03, 2017

Tips for Homeowners – What to do if you Find an Underground Fuel Oil Tank in Your Backyard

Fuel oil leaks from underground storage tanks (“USTs”) into the soil and groundwater can result in environmental damage and significant...


February 22, 2017

Is There a Duty to Consult on Legislation? SCC May Decide

This week the SCC received an application to hear an appeal of the Federal Court of Appeal ("FCA") decision in Canada (Governor General In Council)...


January 30, 2017

New NEB Energy East Panel Reset

On January 9, 2017, the National Energy Board appointed three new members to hear the Energy East application following the recusal of the previous...


December 09, 2016

New Real Property Register May Have Environmental Implications

On December 10, 2016, the Ontario Business Corporations Act ("OBCA") will be amended by the Forfeited Corporate Property Act, 2015 ("FCPA") to incl...


September 15, 2016

Reconciliation Update: A Look Beyond Resource Engagement

As we focus on fall activities for resource and infrastructure projects, some may pause to consider the Indigenous issues which are top of mind in ...


April 29, 2016

Métis and Non-status Indians: Out of the Jurisdictional Wasteland

On April 14, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada released its decision in Daniels v Canada (Indian Affairs and Northern Development).  In this l...


December 15, 2015

Ross River Dena Council v. Yukon: The Duty to Consult and Wildlife Management

On November 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of Yukon (the “Court”) released its decision in Ross River Dena Council v. Yukon.  This is...


December 07, 2015

Peel Watershed Decision: Yukon did not Honour the Letter or Spirit of the Final Agreements, Peel Watershed Planning Returned to Earlier Stage in Process

On November 4, 2015 the Yukon Court of Appeal (the “Court”) released its decision in The First Nation of Nacho Nyak Dun v. Yukon, rejec...


October 29, 2015

First Nations Not Barred From Bringing Claims Against Private Parties Based On Harm To Unproven Aboriginal Rights, Title and Treaty Rights

The Supreme Court of Canada will not hear appeals of British Columbia and Quebec Court of Appeal decisions allowing First Nations to proceed in law...


October 16, 2015

Third Time Lucky as Great Lakes Protection Act is Finally Passed

After two earlier versions died on the order paper, the Ontario Legislature finally passed Bill 66, the latest iteration of the Great Lakes Protect...


July 23, 2015

Yellowknives Dene First Nation v. Debogorski: Is the duty to consult changing?

On June 23, 2015, the Federal Court of Appeal (“FCA”) released Yellowknives Dene First Nation v. The Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and...


July 21, 2015

NEB Releases List of Aboriginal Intervenors for Energy East

The National Energy Board (“NEB”) has released a list of 109 Aboriginal groups that have been approved as Intervenors in the proceeding...


May 12, 2015

BC Court of Appeal: First Nations can bring tort claims for harm to asserted rights

On April 15, 2015 the British Columbia Court of Appeal (“BCCA”) released Saik’uz First Nation v Rio Tinto Alcan Inc. (&...


April 01, 2015

CIM Magazine Highlights Article on Environmental Regulatory Liability in the Mining Sector by Richard Butler and Nicole Petersen

Willms & Shier lawyers Richard Butler and Nicole Petersen's article "Environmental regulatory liability in the mining sector" is featured in th...


March 27, 2015

Update: Canada files Notice of Appeal for the Injunction granted by the Northwest Territories Supreme Court to Delay Elimination of Wek’èezhìi Land and Water Board

This is an update to our March 2, 2015 article entitled Northwest Territories Supreme Court Grants Tłįchǫ Government Injunction To Delay Eliminatio...


March 02, 2015

Northwest Territories Supreme Court Grants Tłįchǫ Government Injunction To Delay Elimination of Wek’èezhìi Land and Water Board

On February 27, 2015, the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories (NWTSC) released its interlocutory decision in Tłįchǫ Government v Canada (Att...


February 19, 2015

Ontario Source Water Protection Plan Approval Update

Ontario has approved 15 new Source Water Protection Plans (SPP) under the Clean Water Act, 2006. The latest is the South Georgian Bay Lake Simcoe S...


January 06, 2015

First Nation Challenges to Hydroelectric Development - A Tale of Two Provinces

A new article by Julie Abouchar and Nicole Petersen comparing hydro development in Ontario with the historical, policy and legal reasons for the ch...


December 10, 2014

The First Nation of Nacho Nyak Dun v Yukon—Interpretation, Reconciliation and the Land Use Planning Process in Modern Treaties

On December 2, 2014, the Yukon Supreme Court released its much anticipated decision in The First Nation of Nacho Nyak Dun v Yukon. The decision cen...


November 11, 2014

Canada Tables Extractive Sector Transparency Measures Act – Mandatory Reporting of Payments to Aboriginal Governments

Mandatory disclosure of payments made to Aboriginal communities from companies in the oil, gas and mining sectors will likely soon become a reality...


November 06, 2014

Positioning Ontario within Canada’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Programs

Ontario’s recently announced aggressive new reduction targets are set within Canada’s patchwork of greenhouse gas emissions reduct...


October 30, 2014

Ontario Premier Wynne Mandates Aboriginal Priorities

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne released mandate letters to her cabinet ministers on September 25, 2014, outlining key priorities for each ministry....




September 08, 2014

Welcome Nicole Petersen and Robert Woon!

Willms & Shier is delighted to welcome new associates Nicole Petersen and Robert Woon. Nicole assists First Nations, business and governme...



  • Called to the bar of Ontario (2014)
  • J.D., Osgoode Hall Law School (2013)
  • Intensive Program in Aboriginal Lands, Resources and Governments, Osgoode Hall Law School (2012)
  • B.A., History and French, University of British Columbia (2008)



"Willms & Shier is a bluechip environmental law firm."

Judge of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice