Commitment to Truth and Reconciliation
The Law Society of Manitoba recognizes the significance of the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the 94 Calls to Action directed at all segments of Canadian society. In particular, the Law Society endorses Call to Action #27 that calls upon law societies to ensure that lawyers receive appropriate cultural competency training, which includes 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. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights and anti-racism.
We are committed to responding to the Calls to Action and embrace the opportunity to work toward reconciliation between Indigenous people, the legal profession and within the justice system. The Law Society has engaged in the following initiatives as steps towards reconciliation.
Mandatory Indigenous Intercultural Awareness and Competency Training for all Practising Manitoba Lawyers
Most lawyers practising today did not receive essential training on Indigenous people’s history and experiences during their formal education and have a critical knowledge gap in this area. The introduction of The Path as a mandatory course ensures all practising lawyers in Manitoba will share a basic foundation of knowledge about these important issues and begins to fill this knowledge gap. It will also increase lawyer competence when dealing with Indigenous clients or opposing parties, which helps to protect the public and improve confidence in the legal profession and the administration of justice.
Creating an Indigenous Advisory Committee (IAC)
The Law Society of Manitoba’s Indigenous Advisory Committee was created to help guide the Law Society in its ongoing response to the TRC’s Calls to Action. The Honourable Murray Sinclair, appointed as the inaugural Chair of the Committee and its appointed members begin its work in 2021. The Committee will:
- Provide advice and feedback to the Law Society on its educational programs with regard to the potential for cultural bias, as well as actions aimed at increasing cultural competency within the profession.
- Aid the Law Society in addressing the unique needs and perspectives of Indigenous peoples within the Law Society’s regulatory processes.
- Provide advice and guidance to the Law Society generally on how it should prioritize its work in this area. This will include acting as a resource and providing feedback on program initiatives and engagement related to supporting Indigenous lawyers and students.
- Provide advice and support to the Law Society in effectively engaging and building further relationships with Indigenous peoples.
- At the request of the benchers or the Law Society Executive, provide advice or recommendations on other issues affecting Indigenous peoples within the legal system.
Increasing Cultural Competence
We strive to provide a variety of meaningful continuing professional development programs that educate lawyers in the area of cultural competency, including the history and legacy of residential schools, Indigenous law and traditions, inter-cultural awareness and understanding, diversity and anti-racism training. The Continuing Professional Development department works to integrate skills and knowledge in cultural competency into CPD content wherever possible.
Building Connections Networking Event
We work to identify and address barriers that are faced by Indigenous lawyers and articling students in Manitoba. The Building Connections networking event for Indigenous law and articling students is held annually in partnership with the Manitoba Indigenous Law Students Association at the University of Manitoba and the Aboriginal law sub section of the Manitoba Bar Association. It provides an opportunity for students to network and connect with Indigenous and non-Indigenous lawyers in a supportive environment.
For further information on the steps the Law Society has taken in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, specifically Call #27, please contact Alissa Schacter, Equity Officer, and Policy Counsel at firstname.lastname@example.org.