Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs

Office Snapshot

  • Location: Toronto
  • Lawyers: 10
  • Articling Students: TBD
  • Summer Law Students: 1
  • Types of Law: Aboriginal

Who we are

The Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs (MAA) leads on Aboriginal policy development and coordination, and negotiates and settles land claims. It also manages Ontario’s relationships with First Nations, Aboriginal organizations (including Métis, Native women, off-reserve Aboriginal peoples), and the federal government.

The Legal Services Branch (LSB) provides a full range of legal services to support the work of the MAA. The branch works with counsel across the government to assist with the provision of advice on matters related to Aboriginal peoples and their rights and assertions, with a particular emphasis on consultation issues.

What we do

Our lawyers are responsible for providing lead legal support for high profile, complex Aboriginal negotiations, and the development of policies on Aboriginal matters that have complex and cross-ministry implications.

Having expertise in Aboriginal law and related Constitutional and legal areas, lawyers are responsible for the following:

  • Negotiating and drafting multi-party dispute resolution agreements
  • Researching and providing legal advice on Aboriginal policy, land claims, governance, Constitutional law, and Freedom of Information/Protection of Privacy matters, etc.
  • Overseeing drafting of legal documents, briefing notes, and correspondence
  • Briefing senior management.

Our major cases

  • Casino Rama Revenue Agreement: An agreement between Ontario and First Nations in Ontario whereby First Nations receive a share of Casino Rama net revenues for five designated purposes.
  • Michipicoten Boundary Claim Settlement Agreement: MAA counsel:
    • Prepared the legal opinion in relation to the claim
    • Assisted in the development of a negotiating mandate
    • As a member of the land claim negotiating team, provided legal and strategic advice to chief negotiator and team members
    • Drafted the land claim settlement agreement with counsel for the First Nation and Canada
    • Advised Ontario’s implementation coordinator in connection with the implementation of the settlement agreement, including drafting related orders in council etc.
  • Rat Portage vs. Ontario, Canada:  A land claim that was litigated and settled in five parts over several decades. The last portion was settled this year.

What students do

Articling

The MAA articling student will assist in legal research and writing assignments under the direction of counsel. Tasks may include:

  • Gathering primary and secondary research sources
  • Surveying case law that impacts the practice of Aboriginal law in Ontario and nationally
  • Reviewing materials and working with counsel to identify preliminary legal research
  • Providing overviews and summarizing cases/decisions
  • Drafting memos to counsel on legal developments.

Summer Law

The summer law student is involved in a variety of work, similar to that of the articling student. Thorough orientation is important to the summer law agenda and the student is provided many opportunities to gain a better understanding of the Legal Services Division, MAA, and the legal issues involved. This includes events such as library tours, educational courses, and attending land claim negotiations with lawyers. Throughout the summer experience, the student is assigned a mentor to work alongside them to provide advice, direction, and take an active role within the student’s program.

Why choose us

Working in the Legal Services Branch at MAA will provide a comprehensive experience for students in the area of Aboriginal law. Students will also have an excellent opportunity to engage in work with other ministries on a range of legal issues.

Contact us

Saga Williams
Counsel
Saga.Williams@ontario.ca
416-212-2274