It’s been like kitesurfing in 40 knot winds
As my presidential year draws to an end, let me simply say thank you.
Thank you to all who took time out of your valuable day to email, phone or speak with me about your concerns, your views and your ideas. Your feedback is always important. You raised great points about Branch autonomy and ReThink; the importance of Provincial Council; the need for diversity in the legal profession and the judiciary; the continuing challenges in access to justice; the need for student loan forgiveness; the significance of Truth and Reconciliation and many other important issues. We truly are a passionate and devoted community of lawyers.
Throughout this year, I was fortunate to hang out with old friends, meet new ones, attend local Bar association events and travel to many wonderful BC communities, including Masset, Prince Rupert, Kelowna, Kamloops, Victoria, Nanaimo and Smithers. I was also glad to hang out with old and new “national” friends, including fellow Branch presidents and CBA national board members throughout Canada.
This past year felt a little like kitesurfing in 30 knot winds (okay, sometimes more like 40 knots with shore breaks, waves and obstacles). It’s been challenging, sometimes intimidating, but mostly fun.
National CBA’s ReThink, or proposed governance re-organization, occupied a large part of my time this year. Members of our Provincial Council voiced concerns over the initial proposed loss of Provincial Council. Many of us, including fellow Branch presidents, became united on the importance of Branch autonomy (rather than centralization) and geographical representation on any new national board. I am grateful that the new proposed governance structure reflects both Branch autonomy and Canada’s geography.
Some of the key moments that stand out for me include: speaking on a diversity panel at the University of Victoria; visiting all three law schools to hand out scholarship funds; working with the three law school Deans; working with our young lawyers on student loans and the Young Lawyers Advisory Task Force; snowboarding with attendees at our Whistler Branch Conference; hosting four Provincial Council meetings and all our wonderful guests, speakers, chief judges, leaders and politicians; speaking at judicial ceremonies at all levels of court; contributing at various Access to Justice events and to the QC Advisory committee and Judicial Council; presenting awards, including the President’s Award and the Georges A. Goyer QC Memorial Award; doing a “funny walk” at the medieval-themed Yale County Bench and Bar Dinner (while people thought I was walking normally!); attending Law Week events, including a great open house event at the Masset courthouse and the Barry Sullivan Law Cup debate; and of course, walking into a light fixture at the Whistler Branch Conference in front of two Chiefs. I could go on, but I have a 600-word limit.
I started the presidential year with a commitment to three specific goals: revamping Provincial Council meetings; promoting equality and diversity; and advocating for student loan forgiveness for new lawyers committed to working in rural British Columbia. These goals were in addition to the Branch’s ongoing commitments to access to justice, interventions and other advocacy goals. I am very pleased to report that these goals have been met. However, much more work needs to be done. As soon-to-be Past President, I look forward to continuing to advocate for a student loan forgiveness program with the provincial government.
All this to say, it has truly been my honour to be your Branch President. This invaluable experience has changed my perspective and strengthened my voice. I am a better person for it. For all that, I am grateful.