The Law Society urges lawyers to read the executive summary of the Commission’s report.
The Law Society continues to work on developing a full and impactful response to the Commission’s calls to action and developing a long-term action plan in collaboration with Indigenous people that effectively addresses the needs of Indigenous communities.
When the survivors of the residential schools system for Aboriginal children courageously brought forth their experiences in several thousands of court cases, it led to the largest class action lawsuit in Canada’s history. As part of the settlement agreement, the government created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada in 2008 “to contribute to truth, healing and reconciliation.”
The Commission spent six years travelling to all parts of Canada to hear the stories of more than 6,000 witnesses, most of whom were taken from their families and placed in residential schools. The Commission published its final report on June 2, 2015, which called upon all Canadians to acknowledge the wrongs of the past and included 94 recommendations for us to practise reconciliation.
Recommendations 27 and 28 speak specifically to the legal profession. The Benchers recognize that reconciliation goes beyond these two recommendations to involve a number of legal issues currently impacting Aboriginal communities, including:
- child welfare;
- overrepresentation of Aboriginal people in custody and the need for enhanced restorative justice programs;
- the disproportionate victimization of Aboriginal women and girls;
- Aboriginal rights and title (including treaty rights);
- the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;
- unresolved residential school claims;
- and issues concerning jurisdictional responsibility for Aboriginal peoples.
The implementation of recommendations related to these issues largely depends on the engagement of lawyers.
Truth and Reconciliation Advisory Committee
Benchers unanimously endorsed the creation of a permanent Truth and Reconciliation Advisory Committee at their July 8, 2016 meeting. The committee will provide guidance and advice to the Law Society on legal and justice issues affecting Indigenous people in the province, including those highlighted in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Report and Recommendations.
The Benchers devoted a full day at their annual retreat in June 2016 to a forum where they heard from Indigenous leaders and participated in discussions. This marked an important step in the Law Society’s ongoing development of an action plan. Themes discussed at the retreat include the Commission’s recommendations, Indigenous laws, international Indigenous rights, Aboriginal and treaty rights, child welfare issues, criminal law, restorative justice, victims services and First Nations Courts.
Read a summary of the retreat published in the Summer 2016 Benchers’ Bulletin.