“His reputation speaks for itself.”
Tom is a nationally recognized authority in the area of Aboriginal law, advising business and government clients across Canada on Aboriginal legal matters and related environmental assessments, negotiations and regulatory and constitutional issues. In recognition of his important and significant work in this area, Tom was honoured as one of the nation’s “Top 25 Most Influential” lawyers by Canadian Lawyer magazine in 2018.
Tom has extensive national experience advising energy, oil, gas, pipeline, mining and forestry companies, lenders and investors, and federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments and agencies on Aboriginal and project-related regulatory and environmental matters. He regularly negotiates on behalf of industry and governments in respect of impact, benefit and access agreements with Aboriginal groups, and he advises on Aboriginal consultation and accommodation processes and agreements. Tom has also acted as a mediator involving complex multi-jurisdictional Aboriginal-related disputes.
Tom's litigation practice is national in scope and focuses on representing clients in Aboriginal related matters before the Supreme Court of Canada, Federal Court of Canada, Ontario Court of Appeal, Ontario Divisional Court, British Columbia Court of Appeal, British Columbia Supreme Court, Northwest Territories Supreme Court, Yukon Supreme Court, PEI Supreme Court, National Energy Board, Ontario Energy Board and British Columbia Environmental Appeal Board. His published works on Aboriginal law have been cited with approval by Canadian courts, including the Supreme Court of Canada and the Federal Court of Appeal.
He is a former Chief Treaty Negotiator for the Government of British Columbia and former Assistant Deputy Minister responsible for establishing Nunavut for the Government of the Northwest Territories. He also served in a senior capacity with the Government of Saskatchewan dealing with Aboriginal issues.
Tom has served as the Minister’s Special Representative to the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs regarding a Section 35 Métis Rights and Reconciliation Framework and a reconciliation approach for the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Manitoba Métis Federation v. Canada. His Report – A Matter of National and Constitutional Import: Métis Section 35 Rights and the Manitoba Metis Federation Decision – was released by Canada in July 2016. Tom also recently served as the Minister's Special Representative to the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs and the Premier of the Northwest Territories regarding the Akaitcho Dene and NWT Métis Nation negotiations in the Northwest Territories. His Report – A Path to Reconciliation – was released by both governments in March 2017. Tom is presently serving as the Minister's Special Representative for the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs to conduct exploratory discussions on the Gottfriedson class action lawsuit against the Government of Canada relating to residential school day students.
Tom regularly speaks at industry and public forums across Canada on the topic of Aboriginal and constitutional law. He has published numerous articles and is the author of 14 books and monographs, including Aboriginal Law, 5th edition, published in 2016. His books have been used in law schools and universities in Canada and the United States. He has also been a contributing editor to the Canadian Native Law Reporter since 1992 and has taught Aboriginal, constitutional and business law at a number of Canadian universities. In 2017, Tom was honoured for his work in Aboriginal Law with the Carolyn Layden-Stevenson Distinguished Alumni Award from St. Thomas University.