Michael Jerch is the senior lawyer and principal of the firm. Michael is called to the bar in Manitoba in 1997 and in Alberta in 2008, and founded the firm in 2004. For two decades Michael has practiced exclusively in the area of Aboriginal law. Michael has provided a full range of legal services to Indigenous nations in the areas of Aboriginal and Treaty rights law, environmental law, economic development and self-government. Michael has appeared at all levels of court in Canada including the Supreme Court of Canada and appeared in Aboriginal litigation matters in Manitoba and Alberta.
Prior to starting the firm Michael was in house counsel to the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) and provided legal counsel to the Chiefs on a wide range of matters from self-government, Treaty rights and assisted in the re-drafting of child and family services laws in Manitoba. Michael’s practice in Aboriginal law began as an associate at one of the few Aboriginal law boutique firms in Manitoba in the 1990’s, and after studying with several leading Aboriginal law scholars and working closely as advisor to several Manitoba Grand Chiefs including Sydney Garrioch and the late Francis Flett.
Michael’s accomplishments include the following:
- Preparing Indigenous Peoples environmental management and protection laws for the regulation of Indigenous Peoples lands;
- Preparing Indigenous Peoples governance laws, citizenship, constitutions and health regulation and other laws enacted pursuant to federal legislation, inherent rights and indigenous legal traditions of Indigenous Peoples ;
- Preparing Indigenous Peoples land regulation and zoning laws and land codes pursuant to the federal Indigenous Peoples Land Management Act;
- Representing Indigenous Peoples in Aboriginal and Treaty rights litigation with the federal Crown and disputes over Indigenous Peoples jurisdiction;
- Representing a Indigenous Peoples lending agency in collections;
- Representing Indigenous Peoples in debtor-creditor litigation, construction litigation and debt consolidation;
- Representing Indigenous Peoples commercial interests in natural resources and construction projects on reserve;
- Preparing commercial security for on reserve commercial projects and transactions;
- Establishing Indigenous Peoples non-profit entities and agencies providing governmental public services and guidelines and policies for service delivery arrangements with the Crown by Indigenous Peoples institutions for the provision of employment and training and health services;
- Representing Indigenous Peoples in litigation concerning Indian Act exemptions from seizure of Indigenous Peoples income and property¸ particularly the case of McDiarmid Lumber v. God’s Lake First Nation
- Representing Indigenous Peoples in litigation concerning treaty land entitlements and third party interests in land;
- Representing Indigenous Peoples in litigation concerning the protection of the Crown exemption for Indigenous Peoples tobacco and health laws;
- Representing and advising Indigenous Peoples on historical matters including land claims and land expropriations;
- Representing Indigenous Peoples in defending Indigenous Peoples individuals in wildlife and natural resources prosecutions;
- Representing Indigenous Peoples in the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry Child Welfare Initiative (AJICWI) process for the drafting of new Manitoba legislation dealing with child welfare jurisdictions and drafting Manitoba’s child welfare laws;
- Preparing impacts benefits agreements and memoranda of understanding with provincial and federal governments;
- Representing Indigenous Peoples in litigation regarding Crown obligations and the provision of essential services;
When not practising law Michael enjoys researching and reading scholarly articles and works in the area of Aboriginal law and history. Michael enjoys spending time in Indigenous Peoples communities, learning from resource users and elders, and discussing history and political ideas associated with the assertion and reclaiming of Indigenous Peoples independence and self-sufficiency.
Michael also enjoys snowshoeing, playing the banjo and guitar, living on the land, and motorcycling across North America.