Statement from the CBA President on Emancipation Day and the impact of systemic racism in Canada today

  • July 30, 2021

Last year my predecessor as Canadian Bar Association president, Vivene Salmon, marked Emancipation Day by asking lawyers to “reflect on how the law was complicit in upholding slavery, and to think critically about how the legacy of slavery lingers in our legal, social and economic systems.”

I welcome the motion adopted this spring by the House of Commons recognizing Emancipation Day, when slavery was abolished in what is now Canada. For true reconciliation, we need to understand the truth of our history, but also of our present.

Vivene Salmon, the first Black president of the CBA, reminded us that the history of slavery in Canada is linked to the systemic racism experienced by Black and Indigenous people today. As the first Indigenous president of the CBA, I am proud to amplify her words this year. “We must wield the law as a tool to combat racism in our profession and to build a stronger, more cohesive society,” Vivene said. I couldn’t agree more.

Bradley Regehr
CBA President