Truth and Reconciliation toolkit for law firms

  • June 21, 2021

For law firm leaders who took the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action for the legal profession to heart, the last few years may have been filled with more questions than answers. Many want to contribute to the work of reconciliation, but few know precisely how to go about it.

The guiding motto of the Canadian Bar Association is that when we know better, we can do better. The CBA began in 2016 by committing to do its part to advance the calls to action that fit within our mandate. It established a Truth and Reconciliation Task Force, created a dedicated website and, with NVision Insight Group, developed an accredited educational program called The Path: Your Journey Through Indigenous Canada to educate lawyers about the history of Indigenous-settler relations and the legacy of the Indian Residential School System. It also partnered with Myrna McCallum to launch her Trauma-Informed Lawyer podcast.

In June 2021, the CBA is launching a Truth and Reconciliation toolkit specifically for large firms that are already on a reconciliation journey or would like to begin one, and firms of any size that want to become better allies.

We offer this toolkit in a spirit of cultural humility. Together, in a community of learning where best practices are shared freely, we will answer the call and do better.

The Toolkit

The toolkit contains a comprehensive list of templates, guides and resources to help firms further their reconciliation efforts. It is divided into four sections:

  • Leadership and Governance
  • Learning, Celebrating and Supporting Indigenous Communities
  • Talent Management and Students
  • Law and Legal Traditions

You will find guides on how to craft your firm’s messaging on reconciliation, as well as the best ways to establish a roadmap for your reconciliation action plan. Included in the tools are useful things to keep in mind when building a reconciliation website and advice on how to work with Indigenous advisors.

Learning resources include reasons why Indigenous-specific anti-racism training is important and how to be an effective ally. You will gain insights into why land acknowledgments matter. You will also have a better sense of how to engage with Elders and understand cultural differences. Learning about the cultural traditions of Indigenous communities on your territory will help increase your IQ or Indigenous Quotient.

The toolkit includes resources on how firms can ensure their human resource policies are diverse and inclusive and what questions they should ask prospective Indigenous employees or students. It includes guidance on how to ensure firms have a cultural competency lens on their hiring processes.

Finally, the section on Indigenous law and legal traditions is a reference hub for comprehensive glossaries, terminology guides, and many other resources to understand everything from the Indian Act to the United Nations on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and how they apply to the Canadian context.

“Whether you are just beginning your reconciliation journey or are already on your way,” said CBA President Bradley Regehr, “there are tremendous resources here to help you learn to be a better ally, engage with Indigenous advisors, immerse yourself in Indigenous culture, consider ways to recruit and retain Indigenous talent, and much, much more.”