James Tanner was asked to evaluate Aboriginal losses due to tar sands development and he found there was no existing methodology to perform this task so he had to develop a method. Naturally it involved studying and better understanding aboriginal economic systems which are described in traditional land use studies.

Originally starting in 1999 when he first went to Ft. McMurray to assess the damages, James Tanner has been doing land use studies ever since for over 17 years.


To date, the list of land use studies that James Tanner has been involved with includes Fort McKay, Metis, Cree and Dene, Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, Chipewyan Prairie First Nation, Fort McMurray First Nation, Mikisew Cree First Nation, Piikani First Nation, Alexander First Nation, Conklin Metis Settlement, Metis Association of Ontario, Chippewas of the Thames, Aamjiwnaang First Nation, White Bear First Nation, Sakimay First Nation, Gamblers First Nation, Carry the Kettle First Nation, Saulteaux First Nation, Ochapowace First Nation and First Nations in the NWT and Nunavut as well as the Shuswap First Nation in BC.

Within the framework of Canadian Aboriginal law, James Tanner produces land use studies to identify and defend Aboriginal Rights and to tell a story to the youth and preserve the land use story for posterity within a process that includes modeling ancient land use practices and lends emphasis on economic considerations as well.

Because of the nature of rights, the livelihood of the pre-contact peoples is very important and critical to building complete studies. As such, the independent living support that Aboriginal People had before contact must be taken into consideration in order to properly understand their historical and current land use area and rights. James Tanner’s approach takes livelihood into consideration because without that element, much is missed and important rights overlooked.

Aboriginal Land Use Studies


James Tanner has a solid background in economics obtained from degrees in Economics from the University of Alberta and his experience working in various levels of government and business. Consulting often requires a broad understanding of issues and his experience has provided him with the necessary foundation to deliver superior results.

Furthermore, his graduate work at MIT and Harvard gave him an understanding and experience in the top levels of academic and consulting practice. This is important so that the best and most advanced methods are used in whatever field one is practicing in. Also, his experience at the Harvard Law School has helped him understand international legal issues and the increasing importance of international legal and economic issues.

Finally, the work on his PhD. allowed James Tanner to develop an economic theory originally conceived in his early undergraduate years when he was fortunate enough to visit Inuvic, NWT and talk with the Dene people and the effect of northern development on their livelihood. Since 1971, he has maintained that there was a different culture that had to be acknowledged. In 1982 this cultural imperative was placed in the Canadian Constitution and then he was fortunate to be able to work in this area. Consultants should be more aware of different national and cultural issues. This is a very valuable skill in consulting.


Through his company Twin River Consulting – which includes himself, Tracey Tanner (Research and Writing) and Terri Quintal (Geographic Information Systems Services) – James Tanner is active in offering consulting services to Canadian Governments in order to develop better systems to protect the public interest – accounting, administrative, environmental, and resource management.

Range of consulting services

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    and land use studies and negotiation of claims.

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    both corporate and government, finance opportunities, issues and practical solutions

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    including oil and gas, some mining, electrical production, water, environmental issues, health issues related to environmental resource use.

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    Financing, government productivity.

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    In general

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    Municipal financial budgeting, taxation, infrastructure finance.

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    Budgeting, program planning, budget estimates, performance indicators, program implementation.

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    Both public and private financings, both debt and equity. Corporate organization, mergers and acquisitions, corporate tax planning, corporate accounting systems, corporate reporting systems, assessment of pipeline optimization, management reporting and monitoring systems, new business development.

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    Royalty programs, oil and gas reserves assessments, resource assessment, damages caused by hydro-electrical operations, environmental damages to lakes and rivers, asset appraisal, loss assessments, Aboriginal rights losses, Aboriginal Treaty Benefits Losses, Specific Claims Losses, traditional land use losses.

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    Managed aid program for Colombia’s resource sector. Assessed oil and gas reserves, royalties and production methodologies and consulted on reserve assessment methodologies. Assisted in environmental program development and administration.



James Tanner’s professional experiences in Canadian economics and social justice have given birth to a new economic paradigm, created from a core of necessity and practical experimentation.

“Practicalism”, as James Tanner calls it, is best described as economic innovation or problem solving that does not adhere to dominant theories or ideology. Instead, the defining principle of practicalism is that it is an economic solution that is functional and fair.

In its many forms, it will allocate capital more efficiently, prevent as much volatility in markets, provide more balanced services to citizens, and solve old problems.


Particularly now when Western politics seem to be bogged down in ideological struggles and the resulting polarization has created ugly political problems, practicalism can help people of different ideological bents find common ground in solutions that work.

James Tanner is be bringing “Practicalism” into the public discourse with a specific eye towards thinkers and influencers who are open to considering new paradigms and the pure potential that “Practicalism” can offer.

It holds special appeal to economic actors (business people, government policy makers, engineers, lawyers, architects, etc.) who can leave their ideological biases behind and search for solutions that work for people.