A farewell from the Chair
August 31, 2018 will mark the end of my two-year term as Chair of the CBABC Aboriginal Lawyers Forum (“ALF”), after serving as Co-Chair and Vice-Chair. What an honour it has been to have served in these capacities. The mandate of the ALF is to increase the stature and influence of Aboriginal lawyers in the legal profession. The ALF was formalized as a forum of the CBABC in 2010 and is the only one in Canada. Over the years, the ALF has grown not only in membership, but in its presence and reach within the legal profession. Our 2017/2018 ALF Executive Committee is comprised of 11 Indigenous lawyers. There are more than 160 members on our ALF email distribution list and more than 450 followers on our Facebook page.
The ALF fulfils its mandate primarily through three main annual events. In December 2017, the ALF hosted more than 100 lawyers and law students at our 8th annual holiday banquet. Among the dignitaries joining us were Attorney General David Eby, QC, The Honourable Chief Judge of the Provincial Court of BC, Thomas Crabtree (as he then was), The Honourable Justice Len Marchand, CBABC President Bill Veenstra and the CBABC Executive Committee. A new initiative for the ALF was our inaugural children’s Christmas toy drive for Aboriginal children in care served by the Vancouver Aboriginal Child and Family Services Society.
June 21st is National Indigenous Peoples Day (formerly National Aboriginal Day) in Canada. In 2017, and this year in 2018, the ALF hosted its annual law retreat to coincide with the National Indigenous Peoples Day online auction reception, which is held on the Friday evening before the June CBABC Provincial Council meeting. On June 22, 2018, the ALF hosted its 7th annual law retreat, themed Honouring Colten Boushie and Tina Fontaine, Making a Difference – Be the Difference. Among others, we heard from Indigenous lawyers practising in family and child welfare law, as well as Crown counsel and duty counsel practising in provincial and Indigenous courts. We also heard from Chris Murphy, an Ontario lawyer, about his work with Colten Boushie’s family. It was a remarkable day of learning, sharing and networking.
The ALF then hosted a plated dinner. The keynote speaker was Mr. Justice Marchand who spoke on the theme, Be the Change in the Legal Profession. It was fitting that Mr. Justice Marchand gave this keynote address as he is the first member of a First Nation (Okanagan Indian Band) to be appointed (on June 21, 2017) to the Supreme Court of British Columbia, after three years as a judge of the Provincial Court of BC.
To end the day’s events, the ALF hosted its 11th annual National Indigenous Peoples Day online auction reception. This event typically sees many members and guests of Provincial Council in attendance. The reception is a great way to network and make new friends. Thanks to the auction’s Chair, Isabel Jackson, this year’s auction raised approximately $6,000 toward our various initiatives.
Beyond our permanent seat on the CBABC Executive Committee, the ALF also continues to increase the number and scope of our members appointed to CBABC committees. Outside of the CBABC, the ALF has strengthened its presence as well, for instance the ALF is now a regular guest at the LSBC bencher meetings. Under the leadership of incoming Chair, Isabel Jackson, and with the work of the 2018/2019 Executive Committee, the ALF will certainly continue to prosper and flourish. I am personally grateful. Hiy Hiy.
Tina L. Dion, QC, practises in Tsawwassen, BC. She is the Chair of the ALF until August 31, 2018 and Chair of the TRWG.