Answering the call for reconciliation

By Kerry L. Simmons, Q.C. Winter 2017

 

In December 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission published 94 calls to action. They included a call for lawyers and law students to learn and understand the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law and Aboriginal-Crown relations, and to develop their skills in inter-cultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights and anti-racism.

Two years later, how have lawyers and law students responded? Have you read the TRC Report, the executive summary, or the calls to action? Have you learned how the law was used to wrongly assimilate Indigenous Canadians? Have you attended a meeting or a training session to develop your cultural understanding of Indigenous peoples and their experiences?

The CBA prepared an early response to the calls in March 2016 and passed a resolution later that year outlining how it could constructively contribute to reconciliation. I am pleased to say that our Branches throughout the country have been developing responses through dialogue, presentations from Indigenous leaders, and many more meaningful steps.

Our CBA volunteers are not waiting for others to show the way; they’re taking action.  Nationally, we are advancing the commitments made in our August 2016 resolution through our sections. Members will be hard at work this spring developing the plan to help members enhance their understanding of the experience of Indigenous peoples.

Reconciliation offers all of us an opportunity to change our country for the better. Engage, understand, and share what you learn to inspire others to do the same.

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