Strengthening the bonds that unite us

  • August 16, 2021

The American Bar Association’s Hybrid Annual Meeting in Chicago in August was a great opportunity for Canadian Bar Association President Bradley D. Regehr and CBA Interim CEO Paul D. Paton, Q.C., to celebrate the long history of collaboration between our two associations.

At the invitation of Immediate past ABA President Patricia Lee Refo and by special order, Regehr addressed the ABA House of Delegates, the ABA’s 597-member policymaking body, about the history of residential schools in Canada and the CBA’s work on the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Regehr’s remarks were delivered during the House debate on Resolution 801, which “urge[d] all persons, organizations, and governmental entities to support and assist the [U.S.] Department of the Interior’s Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative, in partnership with tribal nations and organizations”. Refo led efforts to bring the resolution to the House in response to a request by tribal leaders for ABA assistance during her July 12 visit to the Navajo Nation, the first ever such visit by an ABA President.

The resolution was approved by the ABA House of Delegates by a margin of 293 to 10.

Long-term cross-border collaboration

The CBA and ABA have worked closely together over many years, at both the executive level and through collaboration by members and amongst our mutual Sections. As Regehr said in another speech to attendees, “many Canadian lawyers have held leadership positions in ABA Sections and Committees,” adding that many ABA meetings have been held in Canada before and that “we will look forward to hosting the ABA Annual Meeting once again in Toronto in 2025.”

In recognition of the remarkable work they have accomplished together to strengthen the bonds between the two associations despite the challenges of the pandemic, Regehr presented Refo with a Star Blanket made by the people of Ebb and Flow First Nation in central Manitoba. The blanket features four colours representing groupings of four that are significant in Indigenous cultures.

In addition to formal speeches and ceremonies, Regehr and Paton met with both candidates for president-elect for the year 2022-2023, Mary Smith of Illinois and Lucian Pera of Tennessee.

While in Chicago Regehr and Paton also represented the CBA as special invited guests at the ABA Board of Governors meeting, at the House of Delegates meetings, at the President’s Reception and at a special dinner honoring Refo’s Presidential term. Paton also attended the Tennessee Bar Association’s executive breakfast meeting as a guest of former state bar president, Canadian lawyer Jason Pannu. A tour of ABA headquarters featured a chance to see an original painting by A.Y. Jackson, a member of the Group of Seven, presented by the CBA to the ABA historically in honour of the close relationship between the two associations.

The CBA wishes to congratulate the new ABA President, Detroit lawyer Reginald M. Turner, and incoming President-Elect Deborah Enix-Ross of New York City. We look forward to continuing our long tradition of collaborative work.