Anti-Racism in Action

Difficult conversations and meaningful work


Anti-Racism in Action

In the autumn of 2021, a collective of individuals from CBABC, including the Aboriginal Lawyers Forum, the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers–BC, the Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers, and the South Asian Bar Association convened, which has since evolved into our regular gatherings over the past two years. Our primary objectives were straightforward: to enhance communication and collaboration among our organizations and to jointly develop an anti-racist initiative tailored to the legal community in British Columbia.

Our intentions were rooted in goodwill and shared values. Many of us had previously crossed paths and collaborated on various projects. Our unwavering commitment rested in the realms of anti-racism, equality, diversity and inclusion — all underpinned by our dedication to collaborative efforts. We were all actively engaged in other Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) initiatives, both within more comprehensive, intersectional groups and within more specialized, focused cohorts. Our collective intention in forming this collective was to direct our energies toward matters of racial justice and to chart a path forward in this distinctive domain.

We came prepared to engage in meaningful work. However, we soon recognized a fundamental truth that should be evident to us all: the importance of dialogues surrounding words and terminology. The language we employ, both in self-reference and in discussing our shared objectives, carries profound significance. Language possesses the power to foster inclusion or exclusion, to amplify voices or silence them, and to empower or marginalize individuals. In essence, the noblest of intentions remain hollow without the conscious acknowledgment of each other’s experiences, particularly those related to personal and systemic racism, and the active effort to prevent the perpetuation of harm in our interactions.

We embarked on a quest to gather resources to inform our conversations, and we engaged in candid discussions among ourselves. These discussions revolved around how we perceive ourselves, the language we employ to define our identities, and the reasons why these choices hold profound significance to us. These conversations were often not easy, even though we came to them with extensive experience in EDI work and with the best of intentions. We each were called upon to consider our own thinking, our modes of conversation, and often subconscious biases. We have been successful in having these conversations and in continuing to work together because we brought goodwill, good faith, and real commitment to the work.

In forthcoming issues of BarTalk, you will find contributions from members of our group who have chosen to share their personal experiences. Our aim in doing so is to provide readers with insights, stimulate contemplation, and ideally serve as a catalyst for similar discussions in their own lives. However, it’s imperative to underscore that our experiences should not be regarded as universal truths, even for those sharing similar racial or ethnic backgrounds. Our objective is to initiate conversations, not to propose simplistic solutions.

We have assembled a collection of supplementary resources for further reading that may pique your interest:

Racial Justice, Racial Equity, and Anti-Racism Reading List

Racial Equity Tools Glossary

Being Antiracist

San’yas Indigenous Cultural Safety Training Program

Cultural Safety: Respect And Dignity In Relationships


We extend an invitation to you to watch this space in forthcoming issues for dialogues on our encounters with racial injustice and our endeavours to combat it. We encourage your active participation in these discussions, whether with us or in your personal circles. Recognizing that racial injustice persists in various forms, both large and small, is the first step. Combating it requires open and authentic conversations with one another.

This article is part of a 4-part series on issues CBABC members face as BIPOC lawyers.