I have been practicing law for over 25 years. I have focused primarily on Aboriginal and environmental law. I was drawn to this practice area because of my strong beliefs in social justice and sustainability. My work has taken me across BC and north to the Yukon and the Northwest Territories.
Initiatives I have had the privilege of playing a role in include:
• establishment of the BC treaty process
• negotiating and implementing modern treaties in BC and the Yukon
• recognition of First Nations’ jurisdiction over education
• negotiating shared decision-making and revenue-sharing agreements
• negotiating impact benefit agreements with industry
• drafting legislation and policy.
I also assist First Nations and Aboriginal organizations in shaping their governance and administrative structures to meet their needs and their aspirations. As well, I have served as a director of West Coast Environmental Law and EAGLE, and on the executive of the CBA-BC Environmental Law Section.
The Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory has listed Nancy as one of Canada's leading lawyers in the field of Aboriginal law.
I have always felt a deep-rooted responsibility to stand up for what is right. I grew up learning about the discrimination experienced by my Tahltan ancestors, and witnessed first-hand the injustices and socio-economic conditions experienced by First Nation communities. These inspired me to become a lawyer and to dedicate myself to working for First Nations. It is my passion to assist First Nations to regain their vibrant cultures and languages, and for my son to experience this cultural resurgence.
Since becoming a lawyer in 1999, I have had the honour of working with clients who demonstrate unrivaled commitment to achieving social and legal justice for First Nations peoples. I have worked principally on issues related to Aboriginal title and rights and achieving reconciliation between our Nations and the Crown. This work includes providing advice to First Nations political leaders on a wide range of issues, participating in policy initiatives with the federal and provincial governments, and supporting First Nations in negotiations with the Crown and third parties.
Outside of my practice, I have had the opportunity to volunteer with organizations committed to protecting the environment through the application of Aboriginal law, and to the education of First Nation youth.
Melissa Louie, Kahahxstahlas, is a Citizen of the Tla’amin Nation (Coast Salish peoples) located north of Powell River, BC and also has family ties to the Okanagan (Syilx) peoples of the Penticton Band.
Melissa holds a BA in Criminal Justice from UCFV and an LLB from UBC Faculty of Law, and has worked with Morgan and Associates since 2007. Prior to pursuing a legal career, Melissa worked with a number of First Nations participating in treaty negotiations, including with her own Nation as a member of Tla’amin Nation’s treaty negotiation team. Further, Melissa worked with her Nation through-out the treaty implementation process (including assisting in the drafting of the Tla’amin Constitution, setting up the Government structure and drafting a number of key laws and regulations). Since becoming a lawyer in 2008, Melissa acknowledges and has deep gratitude for opportunities to work closely with, and learn from knowledgeable, respectful and committed clients. Over the course of her career, Melissa has developed broad and practical experience in providing legal and strategic policy advice on a wide range of treaty-related and Aboriginal title and rights issues. In addition, Melissa has relevant experience working at the international-level to advance Indigenous rights through United Nations mechanisms by supporting the former North American representative to the United Nations Permanent Forum on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
I entered law with the strong belief that law can be a tool to improve the world. My legal education and practice have focused on Aboriginal, environmental, and public international law. My education in legal pluralism and the innovative ways countries across the globe are maneuvering multiple legal systems has led me to focus my practice on supporting First Nations in the recognition and protection of their title, rights, and culture, and the incorporation of indigenous laws and Aboriginal governance as part of the ever-growing Canadian legal fabric.
The environment at Morgan & Associates supports my values in guiding my legal practice, as our whole team is deeply committed to the work that we do, and the reasons and the people behind it. I work on a wide range of legal and policy issues related to: modern treaty-making, Aboriginal title and rights, First Nations’ jurisdiction over education, Aboriginal self-governance and land management, environmental and regulatory policy, and Societies Act related matters.
I am extremely fortunate to be working with a firm that has such strong relationships with its clients, and with clients that bring such wisdom and dedication to their work.