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Environment • Aboriginal • Energy

John J. P. Donihee

Of Counsel
B.Sc., M.E.S., LL.B., LL.M

T: 613-217-8521  E: jdonihee@willmsshier.com

Bio

John Donihee is one of Canada’s foremost experts in environmental, regulatory, administrative and Aboriginal law in Canada’s north. John’s particular focus is on environmental approvals for resource development, land claims implementation and modern treaties in Northwest Territories and Nunavut. He has extensive experience in and land and water regulation, environmental impact assessment, and wildlife management and land use planning law. John is admitted to the bars of Alberta, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut.

Rankings and Awards

 

In June 2014, John received the Government of the Northwest Territories Premier’s Award for Collaboration. This award recognized John’s outstanding contribution to government goals and the public interest through his participation in a working group of government and First Nations representatives to draft the new Northwest Territories Wildlife Act, enacted in November 2013.

Environmental Approvals of Northern Resource Development

John has advised industry, Aboriginal groups, governments and co-management tribunals involved in environmental impact assessment and land and water regulation for resource development projects in Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

Land Claims Implementation

John represents land claims organizations in regulatory proceedings and provides advice on the implementation of land claims including the Inuvialuit Final Agreement and the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. John has negotiated impact benefits agreements on behalf of Inuit, Inuvialuit and government clients, as well as for project developers.

Wildlife, Water and Land Use Planning Law

John has been retained by northern governments and Aboriginal organizations to advise on matters related to the development of new wildlife and species at risk legislation and in Nunavut and Northwest Territories. He also advises wildlife co-management tribunals.

John has developed management frameworks for water on Aboriginal lands as well as for the management of the regulation of land and water by northern tribunals. John has also advised Aboriginal organizations about the development of land use plans and their implementation.

Prior Environmental Experience

John was formerly a Research Associate at the Canadian Institute of Resources Law and an Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Environmental Design at the University of Calgary. Prior to becoming a lawyer, John was the Director of Environmental Planning & Assessment at the Northwest Territories Department of Renewable Resources. He was also a habitat management and consulting biologist.

Clients

  • Northern governments
  • Northern environmental boards and tribunals
  • Northern natural resource companies
  • Northern mining and exploration companies
  • Inuit, Inuvialuit and First Nation communities and organizations

Representative Work

Environmental Approvals of Northern Resource Development

  • Environmental Assessment and Water Licensing for Diamond Mine in NWT—Acted for the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board and the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board, advising about legal issues connected with the environmental assessment and water licensing for a diamond mine in Northwest Territories.
  • Environmental Approvals for Major Infrastructure Project—Acted for the Environmental Impact Review Board established under the Inuvialuit Final Agreement in the review of a major infrastructure project, leading to approvals for the construction of the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk highway connecting the Arctic Ocean to the road network in Southern Canada.
  • Environmental Approvals for Gold Mine in Nunavut—Counsel to a major mining company for the environmental assessment and water licensing of a gold mine in Nunavut, leading to the approval of the mining project by the Nunavut Impact Review Board and the Nunavut Water Board.
  • Advising Co-Management Tribunals Responsible for Resource Development—Counsel to tribunals involved in environmental impact assessment, land and water and wildlife regulation under both the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and Inuvialuit Final Agreement, contributing to ongoing management and regulation of renewable resources and the environment in these areas.

Land Claims Implementation

  • Crown’s Duty to Consult and Comprehensive Land Claim Agreements—Represented the Tlicho Government in the appeal before the Supreme Court of Canada in the Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation case, concerning the Crown’s duty to consult when there is a comprehensive land claim agreement.
  • Negotiating Impact Benefits Agreements—Provided counsel during the negotiation of Impact Benefits Agreements for a gold mine, a diamond mine and the establishment of a new National Park and conservation areas in Nunavut, all of which were subsequently approved.
  • Devolution and Land Claims Interests—Advised the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation on environmental and resource management matters and Inuvialuit rights affected by the Northwest Territories Lands and Resources Devolution Agreement, leading to approval of the Agreement.

Wildlife, Water & Land Use Planning Law

  • Water Policy for Inuit Owned Lands—Completed the legal work and managed an interdisciplinary team responsible for the development a water policy for Inuit owned lands in Nunavut.
  • Yukon Water Compensation Policy and Framework—Advised the Yukon Water Board on the development of a water compensation policy and framework for the Board to manage and make decisions about compensation claims made under their water legislation.
  • Land Use Plan for Aboriginal Settlement Area—Advised an Aboriginal approving authority in the Mackenzie Valley during the development of a land use plan for its settlement area, resulting in the plan being approved and coming in to force in 2014 and providing a key element for conservation and resource development in that area.
  • Development of Nunavut Wildlife Act—Instructing Counsel for the Government of Nunavut during the development of the Nunavut Wildlife Act, which was subsequently enacted and brought into force in 2005.
  • Development of NWT Wildlife Legislation—Advised the Inuvialuit Game Council and the Wek’èezìi Renewable Resources Board during the development of the NWT Species at Risk Act (in force 2010) and Wildlife Act and Regulations, (in force in November 2014). 

 

 

Recognition

In June 2014, John received the Government of the Northwest Territories Premier’s Award for Collaboration.

This award recognized John’s outstanding contribution to government goals and the public interest through his participation in a working group of government and First Nations representatives to draft the new Northwest Territories Wildlife Act, enacted in November 2013.

 

Organizations

  • Law Society of Alberta—member
  • Law Society of Northwest Territories—member
  • Law Society of Nunavut—member
  • Prospectors’ and Developers’ Association of Canada—member
  • Northwest Territories and Nunavut Chamber of Mines—member
  • Canadian Bar Association—Northwest Territories Environmental Law Subsection, Founding Chair (1993 1 996 and 1999-2001); National Aboriginal Law Section, Executive member (1994-1997)

 

Speaking Engagements

  • Co-chair and Speaker, “Regulatory Improvements and New Legislative Initiatives North of 60” and “Wildlife Management and Fisheries Act Amendments”, 2013 Annual National Environmental, Energy and Resources Law Summit – Natural Resources and Energy Legal Developments North and South of 60, National Environmental, Energy and Resources Law Section, Canadian Bar Association, Yellowknife, June 20-21, 2013
  • Delivering annual training courses on Public Hearings and Administrative Law for the NWT Board Forum (2009-2012)
  • Session Chair and Keynote Speaker “Land Claim Agreements” 2030 North – National Planning Conference, Ottawa, June 1-4, 2009
  • Speaker, “Overcoming Crucial Challenges Arising from Securities for Environmental Cleanup: Minimizing Project Delays”, Environmental Law and Regulation North of 60° Conference, The Canadian Institute, Edmonton, November 13-14, 2008
  • Speaker, “Water Resource Regulation in the NWT”, NWT Water Wise Conference, Yellowknife, November, 2007
  • Chair and Keynote Speaker, Yukon North Slope Conference –Keeping Track: Environmental Monitoring and Reporting in Wildlife Management, Whitehorse Yukon, January 30-February 1, 2007

Articles

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)...

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December 01, 2016

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

For Indigenous law watchers, November 30, 2016 was a notable day. The Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) in a day long sitting heard Hamlet of Clyde Riv...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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. (&...

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April 28, 2015

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

On April 13, 2015 a homeowner from Apex, Nunavut was ordered to pay the Government of Nunavut $55,000 in restitution for clean up expenditures resu...

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April 01, 2015

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

On March 18, 2015, the Government of the Northwest Territories and the Government of Alberta signed a Mackenzie River Basin Bilateral Water Managem...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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November 28, 2014

New NWT Wildlife Act Comes Into Force November 28, 2014

On November 28, 2014 the new Northwest Territories Wildlife Act will be called into force. The new Act sets out a comprehensive framework for ...

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July 24, 2014

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

John Donihee is quoted in an article discussing the complex challenges companies and their law firms face as resource projects in Norther...

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July 17, 2014

Supreme Court Clarifies Provincial Aboriginal Consultation Responsibilities When Issuing Resource Permits in Keewatin and Applies Tsilqot’in Infringement Test

The Supreme Court of Canada’s recent decision in Grassy Narrows First Nation v Ontario (Natural Resources) (also known as “Keewatin&rdq...

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July 08, 2014

Supreme Court of Canada Grants Tsilhqot’in Aboriginal Title in William – Implications for Resource Development in Canada

The Supreme Court of Canada issued a ground-breaking declaration of Aboriginal title on June 26, 2014. The Court’s decision in Roger William ...

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  • “The Evolution of Wildlife Law in Canada”, CIRL Occasional Paper #9, Canadian Institute of Resources Law, 2000
  • “Resource Development and the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act: The New Regime”, Douglas Burch, Jeff Gilmour and John Donihee (Author and Editor), Canadian Institute of Resources Law, 2000
  • “Mineral Exploration and Mine Development in Nunavut: Working with the New Regulatory Regime”, M. Hardin and J. Donihee, Canadian Institute of Resources Law, 1998

Books

  • Canadian Environmental Law, Regional Editor, Northwest Territories and Nunavut regions, Butterworths Canada, 1998 to present
  • “Canadian Impact and Benefit Agreements with Local and Indigenous People”, John Donihee and Alastair R. Lucas, International and Comparative Mineral Law and Policy: Trends and Prospects, Kluwer Law, Natural Resources and Energy Series, 2004
  • “Local Control of Wildlife in the NWT”, LLM Thesis, Faculty of Law, University of Calgary, December 2002

News

June 06, 2014

John Donihee Receives Premier's Award for Work on New Northwest Territories Wildlife Act

Congratulations to our colleague John Donihee on his receipt of a Government of the Northwest Territories "Premier's Award for Collaboration"!...

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May 02, 2014

John Donihee Speaking at the North of 60 - Aboriginal Land and Resource Development Conference in Yellowknife, NWT

John Donihee will be speaking at the upcoming North of 60 - Aboriginal Land and Resource Development Conference. The event is taking place in Yello...

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March 31, 2014

Welcome John Donihee!

We are delighted to welcome John Donihee to the Willms & Shier Environmental Lawyers LLP Northern Team as of April 1, 2014. John brings wi...

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Education

  • Called to the bars of Alberta (1989), Northwest Territories (1989), Nunavut (1999)
  •  LL.M., Natural Resources Law, University of Calgary (2002)
  • LL.B., Dalhousie University (1988)
  • M.E.S., Ecological Land Management, York University (1977)
  • B.Sc. (Hons.), Biology, Carleton University (1975)

 

Expertise

"The ability to grasp the very nature of our business and the extent of our situation and report regularly on the magnitude of the issue."

Steel Company Executive