An Inflection Point


An Inflection Point

As I assume the CBABC presidency for the 2022-23 term, a phrase that keeps recurring in my conversations with other lawyers and judges about the current state of our profession and the judiciary (if not society in general) is  “inflection point.”

After dealing with: over two years of the global pandemic; the ever-increasing impacts due to climate change; the growing societal awareness of racial inequities and injustice brought on by the Black Lives Matter movement; and the shock and anguish raised by the recoveries of hundreds of potential unmarked graves * of Indigenous children, reminding Canada of its (not so long ago and until quite recently hidden) brutal past, it is more than understandable why so many of us strongly believe that we must be on the cusp of significant societal transformation, for the greater good, we so desperately hope.

At the same time, these vast currents of change and the turmoil they are spurring, quite often in a reactionary backlash, including an alarming rise in incidents of racial hatred and intolerance coupled with an equally alarming rise in a widespread illiberal disdain for democratic institutions and the rule of law, are causing many of us to feel overwhelmed and despondent — it can be exhausting!     

In the social justice sector, in which I work as a human rights lawyer, we often talk about “vicarious trauma” that can be inflicted from constantly dealing with various clients’ legal issues of oppression and injustice, invoking those same feelings of despondency and despair, as described above, within the legal service provider.

But just as real, although perhaps not quite as common, are instances of experiencing “vicarious resilience” from dealing with a client who has faced seemingly insurmountable challenges of oppression and unfairness, but has somehow remained steadfast and stoic in response, guided by some inner strength and sense of justice.   

I have personally experienced both, especially in most recently representing an Indigenous mother in her case about the egregious mistreatment she has alleged at the hands of the child apprehension system. Her example of courage and determination, given what she has endured, has been inspiring and uplifting.

In these turbulent times, we all need to be uplifted, time and again, by those examples of resiliency and courage in the face of it all, to focus on those inspirational acts and gather strength from them. Then we can hopefully tap into that “vicarious resiliency” as we try to help build the type of transformational change we all want to see, one step at a time.

I am honoured to be able to represent an organization this upcoming term that so well aligns with my values on issues critical to the profession such as access to justice; equity, diversity, and inclusion; and Truth and Reconciliation.

I know that in the critical matter of the move to a single regulator for lawyers, notaries, and paralegals, the CBABC will stand firm and make sure the voice of our profession is heard loud and clear, especially on the issues of self-regulation and the independence of the profession, cornerstones to the fundamental principle of the rule of law.

I very much look forward to working with you all as we together find the inspiration and motivation to keep pushing forward in the right direction on these and other matters for the greater good of both our legal profession and the administration of justice.

* Updated 2022.11.14 to reflect the evolving understanding of the burial sites at Indigenous residential schools |