Sara Mainville


  • P 416-200-5377
  • Suite 1100, 65 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON M5H 2M5

Sara Mainville has been a member of the Ontario bar (2005) and she is a member of the BC bar (2022) with specific matter approvals to practice in Nunavut and Quebec.  Sara has a Management/Public Administration degree (Lethbridge) and a Bachelor of Laws from Queen’s University. She has a LLM from the University of Toronto and an Advanced Negotiations certificate from Harvard University, and a Certificate in Entertainment Law (Osgoode PD).

During her early practice years with a well-known Anishinaabe law firm, Sara completed her LL.M (University of Toronto) and a thesis titled: Manidoo Mazina’igan: An Anishinaabe perspective Treaty 3, which was one of the earliest examples of Indigenous (“Miinigoziwin”) constitutional research by a legal practitioner.

Sara continues to work with First Nations and Inuit clients and is one of the few practicing lawyers that works as much within Indigenous legal orders as within the Canadian constitutional order (“Aboriginal law”).

In 2014, Sara was elected as Chief of Couchiching First Nation after the sudden death of her friend and mentor, Chief Chuck McPherson. During that term she ensured that the First Nation has strong policy going forward, a good social media presence to engage the many off-reserve members in community affairs and she started the Wasaw group of companies. Sara uses this experience as a former Chief to help leadership work past difficult issues, within Indigenous forms of dispute resolution, and walk the community through processes to encourage discourse and grassroots solutions to long-held problems.  Sara is a strong believer that self-determination requires the Indigenization of our policies, approaches, and legal frameworks.

Sara Mainville is very proud of her participation in the negotiations that led to the creation of the First Nation Sovereign Wealth LP (FNSWLP), a partnership of 129 First Nations in Ontario. Directed by a Chiefs’ Committee on Energy, Sara was active in the negotiations that resulted in the commercial transaction between the Province of Ontario and the FNSWLP of 14 million Hydro One shares and $29 million in seed capital to facilitate long-term wealth creation for the partnering First Nations. The lengthy discussions to transaction closing were completed between October, 2015 to the final days of December 2017.

Sara has completed Advanced Negotiations training at Harvard University and dispute resolution, legislative drafting, and mediation training at professional institutes in order to advance her clients’ long held goals for self-determination and truer treaty partnerships in Canada.

Recently, Sara has received a certificate in Entertainment Law, and she has helped clients with Indigenous intellectual property, copyright, and title issues to accommodate better approaches to recognize collective Indigenous knowledge system, community protocol, and cultural ways and values. She is very committed to mentor JFK Lawyers and facilitate legal practices that are better suited to serve the self-determination and ambitions of our clients.

Sara is generally seen as a subject-matter expert about Crown-Indigenous relations, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaty 3, and Anishinaabe Inakonigewin. However, Sara sees herself as a life-long learner willing to meet in community, read voraciously, and listen intently to better understand Indigenous knowledge systems across Canada.


  • Sara Mainville, Hunting Down a Lasting Relationship with Canada—Will UNDRIP Help?, (2021) 57.1 Osgoode LJ 57.1 (2021) 98-126
  • Sara Mainville, “Treaty Councils and Mutual Reconciliation under Section 35,” (2007) Indigenous Law Journal 142.
  • Sara Mainville and Renee Pelletier, “UNDRIP, Decision Making, and the Role of Indigenous Peoples” Meinhard Doelle; A. John Sinclair (eds) The Next Generation of Impact Assessment A Critical Review of the Canadian Impact Assessment Act (Toronto: Irwin Law, 2021) link:

2024 LEXPERT-ranked Lawyer


  • Practice Areas

    • Self-Government and Self-determination
    • Advancing Treaty Implementation
    • Law-making within Indigenous Legal Orders
    • Cannabis, Gaming, and Tobacco Law
    • Entertainment Law and Indigenous Intellectual Property/Copyright


JFK Law to Participate and Sponsor: 2024 Public Law Conference!

JFK Law is excited to present, moderate and sponsor the 2024 Public Law Conference

JFK Law is excited to announce that Robin Phillips has joined the partnership at JFK Law LLP

Robin has been an integral part of the JFK team for almost 5 years. Before she joined the firm