As lawyer for the Pictou Landing First Nation since 2006 Brian has researched and answered many legal questions. He rants against the “dark cloud” of legal uncertainty that hangs over many First Nations making day to day legal advice a necessity for Chief and Council. A lawyer since 1989, Brian advises on governance, land claims, contracts, buying and selling businesses, economic development and community trust funds. Brian is a founding partner of McKiggan Hebert Lawyers in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
In 2010 Brian launched an environmental racism lawsuit on behalf of Pictou Landing First Nation against the Province of Nova Scotia and the owners of a nearby pulp mill. The lawsuit sought to close the infamous Boat Harbour Treatment Facility located next to the First Nation community. While the lawsuit is still ongoing, pressure from the lawsuit and community action has forced the Nova Scotia government to enact the Boat Harbour Act which will make it illegal to use the treatment facility after January 30, 2020.
With an economics and business law background, Brian helps other clients prove their economic losses in court and has helped resolve hundreds of disputes. He also represents a number of small business owners and professionals. Brian stays with clients through thick and thin and has overseen the purchase and sale of multiple businesses. With the utmost respect and admiration for entrepreneurs, Brian even partners with some clients providing start-up and early stage legal services in exchange for equity.
Brian figures that he literally owes his existence to the Mi’kmaw. His great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great-grandfather, Etienne Hebert, would not have survived without their help when he arrived in Nova Scotia from France in 1632. Brian sees enormous potential for the Mi’kmaw to positively impact Nova Scotia in the area of culture, environmental responsibility and economic development.
Brian graduated from Dalhousie Law School in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1988. Prior to law school, Brian attended Saint Francis Xavier University where he earned recognition for academic excellence while pursuing a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Economics and was elected to both the University Senate and Board of Governors.
Nova Scotia Barrister’s Society – 1989 to present.
Professional Memberships and Offices
Canadian Bar Association (CBA), Member – 1989 to present
CBA Aboriginal Law Section, Nova Scotia Branch President – 2010 to 2012
CBA Aboriginal Law Section, National Executive Committee – 2010 to present
CBA National Aboriginal Law Conference, Co-Chair – 2016
Atlantic Provinces Trial Lawyers Association (APTLA) – member 2001 to present
APTLA, Board Member – 2009 to present
APTLA Chair Education Committee – 2009 to present
The Advocates’ Society (TAS), Member – 2013 to present
TAS Train the Trainer Program, Skills Trainer – 2015 to present
Current Community Activities
Brian has been a member of the Board of Directors of L’Arche Halifax since 2008 and has served as Chairman of the Board since 2009. L’Arche Halifax is a member of the L’Arche International Federation which was started by Canadian, Jean Vanier, in 1965 when he welcomed two men with intellectual disabilities to leave the institution they were in and live with him. From Jean Vanier’s home in Trosly, France the idea of people living and sharing life with people with intellectual disabilities has spread to hundreds of homes in 135 countries around the world. The L’Arche Halifax homes were established in 2010.
Nova Scotia Assessment Appeals Tribunal
Brian has been a sitting member of Nova Scotia Assessment Appeals Tribunal since 2013. The NSAAT hears appeals from Nova Scotia property owners from the annual property assessments. Brian sits on the tribunal in the spirit of public service. Brian says that he now has a deeper appreciation for the role of judges, juries and arbitrators and this has made him a better advocate for his clients.
East Coast Environmental Law Association
Brian has been pleased recently to accept a position on the Board of Directors of the East Coast Environmental Law Association. ECELAW envisions a future where innovative and effective environmental laws and the fair application of those laws, provide Atlantic Canadians with a clean, healthy environment, which will make a positive contribution to the quality of life of its present and future inhabitants and visitors. Brian is excited to help in the work of this long standing environmental organization.
No one knows why Brian takes on some of the cases he does, perhaps not even Brian himself. We all need to earn a living but money is not Brian’s prime motivation. If it were he would not have taken on many of the clients and cases that he has. Publicity and fame aren’t the reasons either. Having been involved early in his career in the high profile Westray Mine Public Inquiry into a deadly coal mine explosion (he represented the families of the 26 victims throughout 75 days of public hearings) he’d rather work quietly out of the spotlight. Brian believes it is important to make the world a better place. No effort big or small is wasted.
Brian was an early adopter of practice management, remote access and voice activation software to keep fees down and improve client response time.
Brian was fortunate to team up with like-minded lawyer, John McKiggan, to found McKiggan Hebert, Lawyers in 2013.