Call To Action

Prepare and Implement Reconciliation Response Plans

Call To Action

Jody Wilson-Raybould’s most recent book, True Reconciliation, opens with recounting the one question that she has been asked by Canadians more than any other: What can I do to advance true reconciliation in Canada? Reconciliation is a collective effort; as such, this is an important question for all Canadians to ask themselves. As lawyers, we have a unique responsibility to recognize and contribute to reconciling the intergenerational harms of colonialization experienced by Indigenous peoples given the roles the legal system and profession played in the implementation and enforcement of laws and policies in Canada.

One way of advancing reconciliation is for lawyers to sit down together and commit to the process of developing a Reconciliation Response Plan for their firms. It involves re-envisioning your firm’s goals and vision through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and committing to take steps to integrate reconciliation into a firm’s objectives. Firms can advance reconciliation in a number of areas, including cultural education for all members and staff, recruitment and retention of Indigenous counsel and staff, support for Indigenous pro-bono initiatives and supporting Indigenous businesses through contracting opportunities.

  1. There is much work to be done by the legal profession in B.C. to rise to the Calls to Action and more firms need to consider how to put into place a thoughtful and sustained plan to advance reconciliation. In 2022, the CBABC surveyed 15 large and medium size firms (above 20 lawyers) in British Columbia. Two of these firms had completed Reconciliation Response Plans, four were in the process of developing one and six intended to develop one but had not yet started. Firms have informally expressed hesitancy to grapple with reconciliation without adequate knowledge and experience; however, we recommend that all firms undertake concrete steps to advance reconciliation and note that there are resources available to help guide this process: CBA has prepared a toolkit for firms wishing to begin the process to develop a Reconciliation Response Plan. It offers useful templates and examples and provides links to important resources.
  2. CBABC has prepared a template Reconciliation Response Plan for firms and has compiled several helpful resources, including an on-demand webinar with J. Berry Hykin a partner at Woodward & Company and Zach Romano a partner at Fasken who speak to their firm’s experiences in developing a Reconciliation Response Plan.1

As you move forward with your firm’s Reconciliation Response Plan, there are some best practices to keep in mind:

  • Take time to ensure your team is starting from the same place. Read the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report2 and the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls Report.3
  • Reconciliation is heavy work. Bring your colleagues with you and support them along the way.
  • Reconciliation involves difficult discussions; create a safe space to have them.
  • Be realistic with the goals and actions that you set; anticipate the practical application.
  • Hire an external third-party advisor to provide feedback and guidance.
  • Make space for Indigenous colleagues who volunteer to participate, but don’t make Indigenous colleagues do all the emotional labour.

As lawyers in British Columbia, reconciliation is our collective responsibility. We urge you to do your part to take up the Calls to Action and advance tangible and measurable steps toward reconciliation through the development of a Reconciliation Response Plan at your firm.

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