Benchers prioritize Truth and Reconciliation call to action
Vancouver, November 4, 2015 – The Benchers of the Law Society of British Columbia have unanimously agreed that addressing the challenges arising from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s findings and recommendations is one of the most important and critical obligations facing the country and the legal system today.
The report contains 94 recommendations. Recommendations 27 and 28 speak specifically to the legal profession. The Benchers recognize that reconciliation goes beyond these two recommendations to include a number of legal issues currently impacting Aboriginal communities. These include 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. While the majority of the report’s recommendations are not directly aimed at lawyers, their implementation largely depends on the engagement of lawyers.
Accordingly, the Law Society will begin immediately to implement several key initiatives.
The Law Society will immediately seek opportunities to collaborate with Aboriginal groups and other organizations to further examine the report’s recommendations and identify strategic priorities.
The Benchers will embark upon a consideration of an action plan to facilitate the implementation of the report’s recommendations.
The Law Society’s mandatory continuing professional development program recognizes and gives credit for education and training in areas relating to Aboriginal issues, and all British Columbia lawyers are encouraged to take such training.
The report is a call to action. The Law Society encourages all lawyers in British Columbia to read the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and to consider how they can better serve the Indigenous people of British Columbia.
The Law Society of British Columbia regulates more than 11,000 practicing lawyers in the province and is charged with the statutory duty to uphold and protect the public interest in the administration of justice.
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