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Environment • Aboriginal • Energy



Willms & Shier's Northern Team provides expert legal advice on environmental, Aboriginal, energy and resource development matters in Canada's Northern Territories.

John Donihee, one of Canada's foremost experts in environmental, regulatory, administrative and Aboriginal law north of 60º, leads the Northern Team. In June 2014, John Donihee received the Government of the Northwest Territories' "Premier's Award" for collaborative work on new wildlife legislation for the Northwest Territories.

We represent clients ranging from northern Boards and Tribunals, government and industry proponents to Inuit, Inuvialuit and other Aboriginal organizations:

  • Northwest Territories – we represent and advise Boards and Tribunals on environmental impact assessment, land and water regulation and wildlife management
  • Nunavut – we represent resource developers and Inuit groups on land and resource management, including impact benefit agreements. We appear before environmental and regulatory tribunals on matters relating to mining and other development projects
  • Yukon – we advise Aboriginal organizations, environmental tribunals and non-government organizations on the environmental regulatory regime and wildlife management in the Territory

Selected Recent Projects

  • Drafted and assisted negotiators on impact benefit agreements addressing major gold mines in Northern Ontario and Nunavut, a diamond mine in Nunavut, major hydro development projects in Northern Ontario and a graphite mine in Northern Ontario
  • Represented Inuit and developers in impact assessment and water licensing hearings related to mine development
  • Developed water policy for Aboriginal lands and a water compensation policy for the Yukon Water Board

Speaking Engagements

Monday, April 3, 2017 to April 06, 2017

Nunavut Mining Symposium: Regulating for Caribou Protection - What Can Work?


Thursday, April 27, 2017 to April 28, 2017

CBA Environmental, Energy & Resources Law Summit


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Infonex Conference: Recent Developments in Environmental Law with Land Use Planning Implications


Tuesday, November 15, 2016 to November 17, 2016

The 44th Annual Yellowknife Geoscience Forum


Monday, November 14, 2016

The Law Society of Upper Canada: Indigenous Law Issues 2016


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Ontario Waterpower Association: Power of Water Canada Conference


Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Law Society of Upper Canada: The Six-Minute Environmental Lawyer 2016


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Law Society of Upper Canada: The Six-Minute Business Lawyer 2016


Thursday, February 4, 2016 to February 06, 2016

CBA NB Conference: Resource Agreements with Aboriginal Communities: Challenges and Opportunities


Tuesday, November 24, 2015 to November 26, 2015

The 43rd Annual Yellowknife Geoscience Forum


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Air & Waste Management Association-OVC: Legal Viewpoint of Air Quality and Climate Change Issues in the North


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

2015 Yukon North Slope Conference


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Willms & Shier Speaker Series in Environmental Law


Friday, June 19, 2015

CBA NEERLS NWT Branch: NWT Waters - Management Issues and Opportunities for Change


Tuesday, November 25, 2014 to November 27, 2014

The 42nd Annual Yellowknife Geoscience Forum


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

41st Aquatic Toxicity Workshop, Ottawa


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

CBA Seminar: Conflicts Between Insolvency Law and Environmental Law and Resulting Directors' Liability Fallout


Tuesday, May 27, 2014 to May 28, 2014

Insight's North of 60 - Aboriginal Land and Resource Development Conference in Yellowknife, NWT


Thursday, June 19, 2014 to June 20, 2014

CBA's 2014 National Aboriginal Law Conference in Iqaluit, Nunavut



April 06, 2017

Expert Panel Releases Its Report: A New Vision for Impact Assessment in Canada


February 22, 2017

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


December 01, 2016

Aboriginal Consultation and Administrative Proceedings: Two Cases Heard by the SCC in November


September 15, 2016

Reconciliation Update: A Look Beyond Resource Engagement


July 11, 2016

Ontario Government to Support Indigenous and Community Involvement in Renewable Energy Projects


July 08, 2016

Northern Gateway Pipeline Project on Hold Until Canada Adequately Fulfills Duty to Consult


April 29, 2016

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


March 28, 2016

2016 Federal Budget Increases Funding for Environmental and Aboriginal Issues in Canada


December 15, 2015

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


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


October 29, 2015

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


October 16, 2015

Third Time Lucky as Great Lakes Protection Act is Finally Passed


July 23, 2015

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


April 28, 2015

Nunavut Homeowner Ordered to Pay $55,000 for Heating Oil Tank Spill


April 01, 2015

The Northwest Territories and Alberta Sign a Mackenzie River Basin Bilateral Water Management Agreement


March 02, 2015

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


January 16, 2015

Richard Butler Discusses the Use of Helicopters in Northern Claim Staking Appears in CIM Magazine


December 10, 2014

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


November 28, 2014

New NWT Wildlife Act Comes Into Force November 28, 2014


July 24, 2014

John Donihee Quoted in Article – Developing the North: Poised to expand, but challenges are complex


April 22, 2014

2014 Nunavut Mining Symposium Stresses Investment, Patience and Diligence in Developing Mineral and Exploration Sector


Recent Publications

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