Spotlight on Truth and Reconciliation

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Law Society of Alberta Welcomes Indigenous Initiatives Counsel

The Law Society of Alberta has announced the appointment of Jessica Buffalo to the position of Indigenous Initiatives Counsel, with responsibility to help guide the law society’s work with Indigenous initiatives in Alberta’s legal community. She will help the Law Society advance the process of reconciliation within the justice system and the legal profession, provide support for Indigenous lawyers and students, and advance cultural competency development for all lawyers and within the Law Society . In her role, Jessica will work closely with the Law Society’s Indigenous Advisory Committee and members of the Education team, and will collaborate with key justice system stakeholders to advance work on Indigenous initiatives affecting the Alberta legal community and the public.

Jessica is a member of the Samson Cree Nation and received her Juris Doctor from the Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia in 2016. She was called to the Alberta bar in 2017. She is a frequent presenter at conferences across Canada, speaking about the Calgary Indigenous Court, restorative justice and the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in the Canadian justice system. Jessica is also a member of the Gladue Report Committee, the Safety for Indigenous Women in Urban Settings Committee, and is a founding member of the Indigenous Lawyers Forum. She has also been involved in developing and delivering education to the legal profession and the judiciary in Alberta on topics relating to cultural competency, the Calgary Indigenous Court, Gladue Report writing, restorative justice and access to justice. (July 2022)

Law Society of British Columbia Launches Mandatory Indigenous Intercultural Course

The Law Society of British Columbia has launched a mandatory Indigenous intercultural course for all lawyers in the province. All practising lawyers in BC have up to two years to complete the free online course, and they may claim up to six hours of continuing professional development credits. In December 2019, the governing board of law society Benchers approved the development of the course, and mandated this education as part of the Law Society’s commitment to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action 27. Development of the course was overseen by the Law Society’s Truth and Reconciliation Advisory Committee. The material has been organized into six online modules covering the colonization of British Columbia and Canada and the impact on Indigenous Nations and individuals. (February 2022)

Chambre des notaires du Québec Commits to Process of Reconciliation

On the inaugural National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, the Chambre des notaires du Québec affirmed its commitment to reconciliation with the publication of a Declaration on Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. As a key initiative in their reconciliation process, the Chambre committed to begin Indigenous cultural competency training among its members in fall 2021. The training will help Quebec notaries better respond to the legal needs of Indigenous communities. The Chambre will also collaborate with universities to develop course content to educate future Quebec notaries about the history of Indigenous Peoples and the challenges they currently face. The Chambre has also been offering funds through its Fonds d’études notariales financial assistance program to document and revitalize Indigenous law and foster the coexistence of legal systems and traditions.For more information, consult the Chambre des notaires’ communiqué. (September 2021)

Law Society of British Columbia to Engage Indigenous Community in Regulation of Legal Profession

The Law Society of British Columbia has approved the creation of a Task Force on Indigenous Engagement in Regulatory Matters. The Task Force will be conducting a full review of the law society’s regulatory processes to ensure they improve engagement with Indigenous communities and better responds to their needs and those of other vulnerable groups. The review will focus on improving the law society’s complaints, adjudication and prosecution processes and access to justice for Indigenous and vulnerable communities.  Among its proposed activities, the Task Force will analyze how the current process to gather, assess, introduce and submit evidence in the disciplinary process affects Indigenous complainants and witnesses; consider and compare the differences that exist between Indigenous perspectives on conflict resolution and conventional law society approaches to investigation, discipline and adjudication processes; and identify ways to prevent and address members’ misconduct against Indigenous peoples. (September 2021)

Law Society of Manitoba Creates Indigenous Advisory Committee

In October 2020, the Law Society of Manitoba approved the creation of an Indigenous Advisory Committee to guide the law society in its ongoing response to the TRC’s Calls to Action. In December 2021, the Honourable Murray Sinclair was appointed chair of the Committee, and in July 2021, the LSM appointed Bencher Jessica Saunders vice chair and named eight additional members who between them represent urban, rural, and northern areas of Manitoba and a broad range of Indigenous and non-Indigenous perspectives. (July 2021)

Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador Plans TRC Initiatives

The Indigenous Education and Action Committee of the Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador conducted a survey of lawyers in February to help plan future initiatives. In consultation with the Committee, the law society is also reviewing its library collection to ensure that it includes relevant and appropriate Indigenous resources, and has endeavoured to develop and deliver high-quality continuing legal education seminars to its membership. The law society report is here. (November 2019)

Law Society of New Brunswick Adopts Pathway to Reconciliation Policy

The Council of the Law Society of New Brunswick has unanimously approved a series of comprehensive recommendations proposed by the law society’s Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action Committee. The LSNB adopted a policy entitled Pathway to Reconciliation aimed at fulfilling Call to Action 27. The policy recognizes and acknowledges the LSNB’s ongoing commitment to reconciliation. As indicated in the policy, the law society acknowledges that it has an obligation to address the calls to action and that reconciliation is an ongoing process of interaction and dialogue between the LSNB and the Indigenous peoples of New Brunswick. (October 2019)

Law Society of British Columbia Expands Indigenous Cultural Competence Training in Bar Admission Course

The Law Society of British Columbia is expanding Indigenous intercultural competence training in its Bar admission course, thanks to support from the Law Foundation of BC. The grants will enable the Law Society to create new training and information for all students who are applying to become lawyers in British Columbia, building upon the intercultural competence learning provided by law schools in BC. Education materials will be produced in collaboration with experts at the University of Victoria’s Indigenous Law Research Unit and the University of British Columbia’s Indigenous Community Legal Clinic. Mandatory intercultural competence education for admission candidates is part of the Law Society’s Truth and Reconciliation Action Plan. The plan proposes more than 50 actions and initiatives that the Law Society can take to advance reconciliation. (September 2019)

Law Society of Manitoba Approves TRC Road Map

Benchers of the Law Society of Manitoba have endorsed a Road Map to increase cultural competency in the delivery of legal services in the province. The Benchers previously received an update on steps taken to date in Manitoba to respond to the Calls to Action. (April 2019)

Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society Approves Draft TRC Work Plan

At their March 2019 meeting, the Council of the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society approved the Terms of Reference for the society’s TRC Working Group, and presented a draft work plan. The draft work plan includes activities to revive the Eastern Door Initiative, create a decolonization education series and work with the Education & Credentials department to incorporate cultural competence training in the bar admissions course. (April 2019)

Law Society of Alberta Announces Indigenous Advisory Committee

As part of its response to the TRC Calls to Action, the Law Society of Alberta established an Indigenous Advisory Committee to collect feedback and input on the initiatives of the law society. The committee will work with the Indigenous Initiatives Liaison Koren Lightning-Earle to advance the goals of truth and reconciliation, particularly surrounding access to justice for Indigenous peoples and cultural competency development for lawyers. The committee members include four Indigenous lawyers, one non-Indigenous lawyer and two Indigenous members of the public. (March 2019)

TRC Action Plan for Law Society of British Columbia

Benchers of the Law Society of British Columbia have approved an updated Truth and Reconciliation Action Plan, and voted to expand the criteria for awarding the society’s annual Indigenous scholarship. The Action Plan includes six initiatives, including a request to the government of British Columbia to appoint an Indigenous bencher.

In January 2018, the Law Society of British Columbia Benchers voted to amend the Terms of Reference of the law society’s TRC Advisory Committee. The report recommending the change is here. (June 2018)

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