Jay Nelson

Associate Counsel

As associate counsel at Woodward and Company, Jay is committed to assisting First Nations in achieving recognition of their Aboriginal rights through education and awareness, consultation and accommodation, negotiated settlements, and – where necessary – litigation.

In 2000, Jay graduated from the University of Victoria Faculty of Law, where he was awarded the Law Society Gold Medal. Upon graduation, he served as a law clerk for the Chief Justice of Canada, Beverley McLachlin. Jay joined Woodward and Company in 2002 and spent the following years as a member of the legal team for the Xeni Gwet’in First Nation and the Tsilhqot’in Nation in their historic Aboriginal title and rights claim, Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia and Canada.

Since he was called to the B.C. Bar in 2005, Jay’s practice has seen him advocate successfully for First Nations on a number of other high profile cases, including serving as co-counsel on behalf of Tsilhqot’in Nation before the B.C. Court of Appeal in November 2010 and the Supreme Court of Canada in November 2013.

Throughout his legal career, Jay has authored several publications relating to Aboriginal law and has been the recipient of multiple awards, including The William R. McIntyre Award for community service, student leadership and academic excellence over the course of his LL.B. program.

Selected Presentations & Publications

Mikisew Cree First Nation v. Canada (Minister of Canadian Heritage), [2005] 3 S.C.R. 388 [Counsel for the Intervener Treaty 8 Tribal Association]

R. v. Morris, [2006] 2 S.C.R. 915 [Counsel for the Intervener Chief Roger William]

Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia, 2007 BCSC 1700

Lax Kw’alaams Indian Band v. Canada (Attorney General), 2011 SCC 56, [2011] 3 SCR 535

Rio Tinto Alcan Inv. v. Carrier Sekani Tribal Council, 2010 SCC 43

“The Grant of Oil Sands Tenures and the Honour of the Crown: Is Alberta Satisfying its Duty of Consultation?”, Canadian Institute’s Aboriginal Consultation for Industry Conference. Edmonton, AB, Feb. 26, 2008. Co-authored with Jenny Biem.

“New Light on the Path: The Concept of Reconciliation in Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia”, Tsilhqot’in First Nation v. British Columbia: The Immediate Impact and Next Steps – Pacific Business Law Institute Conference. Vancouver, BC, March 4-5, 2008.

“Aboriginal Law”, in Annual Review of Law & Practice, co-authored with Robert Janes, (CLEBC, 2008).

“Case Study – The Prosperity Mine Case”, Aboriginal Rights and Environmental Law Conference – Pacific Business & Law Institute. Vancouver, BC, Dec. 7-8, 2010. Co-authored with Sean Nixon.

“Current Developments in the Law of Aboriginal Rights and Title: Emerging Issues to Watch”, Aboriginal Law Update 2011 Conference – Pacific Business & Law Institute. Vancouver, BC, April 7-8, 2011.


Jay Nelson


Assistant: Lisa Spaven


Professional Standing

Member, Law Society of Alberta (2011)

Member, Law Society of B.C. (2005)


The Law Society Gold Medal and Prize, 2000

The William R. McIntyre Award [highest qualities of community service, student leadership and academic excellence over the course of the LL.B. program], 2000