The Journey of Reconciliation in CBABC

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 The Journey of Reconciliation in CBABC

We're excited to share that CBABC’s second Reconciliation Action Plan for 2023-26 has now launched. Following the inaugural plan of September 2018, we have been on a journey to bring knowledge, opportunities, and support to all members as they took up the call to learn more about Indigenous peoples in Canada, their experiences, and the reforms that are much-needed to right past wrongs.

Over the past 18 months, our Truth & Reconciliation Committee engaged with members in small groups to discover what has changed for lawyers since our first Action Plan and what is now needed. Indeed, in the seven years since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada issued its report in 2015, there have been other reports, the introduction of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (“DRIPA”), election of five Indigenous benchers at the Law Society, a required Indigenous intercultural course, Reconciliation Response Plans implemented in several firms, and record-setting attendance at the Aboriginal Lawyers Forum Holiday Banquet and annual retreat.

CBABC has reported on its work in its Annual Reports and will continue to do so under this next Action Plan. Our work under the Action Plan is shared by CBABC staff and volunteer members, including the Board of Directors, Aboriginal Lawyers Forum, Truth & Reconciliation Committee, and Indigenous Justice Advocacy Committee.

In developing the Action Plan, CBABC established Guiding Principles to express our collective understanding and commitment to an evolving journey. These are:

We are guided by the Calls to Action issued by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, the Calls to Justice issued by the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and the lessons from ongoing and future developments.

We are guided by the principles embodied in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and BC’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.

We acknowledge with regret the significant harm to Indigenous peoples resulting from the roles the legal system and the legal profession played in the implementation and enforcement of laws and policies in Canada.

First Nations, Métis, and Inuit members of CBABC are instrumental in establishing and implementing the Reconciliation Action Plan.

Our commitment is ongoing, and we will allocate resources to implement these goals over the short, medium, and long term. We will work proactively with other institutions to avoid duplication and coordinate efforts to effectively leverage human and financial resources.

There are four clear goals for CBABC in the Action Plan:

  1. To provide Indigenous cultural awareness professional development for our members.
  2. To encourage and create environments for Indigenous lawyers to be welcomed, feel supported, and have opportunities for advancement in the legal profession.
  3. To develop and advocate for law and policy reform to achieve meaningful change for Indigenous peoples in justice, policy, implementation of DRIPA, and regulation of the legal profession.
  4. As an association, to reflect principles of reconciliation in our governance and operations.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission defined reconciliation: “[It] is about establishing and maintaining a mutually respectful relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples in this country. In order for that to happen, there has to be awareness of the past, an acknowledgment of the harm that has been inflicted, atonement for the causes, and action to change behaviour.” It is this last element, “action to change behaviour,” which CBABC has, and will continue, to promote in its membership and among its staff. The journey of reconciliation is complex and requires unlearning and learning. Each of us is at a different stage and CBABC wants to meet each member at the place in your journey where you are. With the launch of our Action Plan, you can navigate our website to continue that journey.

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