Winnipeg lawyer first Indigenous head of Canadian Bar Association

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Winnipeg lawyer and CBA president Brad Regehr discusses his new role and what reconciliation looks like within Canada's legal system.

A Winnipeg lawyer became the first Indigenous person to head up the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) this week.

Brad Regehr, a partner with Maurice Law in Winnipeg, is from Saskatchewan’s Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation, and began his tenure as CBA president Tuesday in a historic appointment for Canada’s legal community.

Regehr, who focuses on Aboriginal law, civil litigation and administrative law, previously served a two-year term as president of the CBA’s Manitoba branch.

He said he’s beginning his term by highlighting the Calls to Action in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report, and that it’s important for Indigenous people to be represented more broadly in the courtroom.

“Things need to change, but that can’t happen unless Indigenous people are actively involved, and, frankly, I think having to lead a lot of these changes that have to occur,” said Regehr.

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“We need more Indigenous lawyers, more Indigenous judges who are in that system and influencing that system, and bringing a perspective that has not been there for a very long time.”

Read more: Indigenous languages could be at forefront of reconciliation process, says Winnipeg community organizer

Regehr, who graduated from the University of Manitoba in 1996 and was called to the bar the following year, is taking over from Vivene Salmon, the association’s first Black president.

Another Manitoba lawyer, John Stefaniuk, was among six new members from across Canada welcomed to the CBA’s board Tuesday.

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