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Our Commitment to Reconciliation

Our Commitment to Reconciliation

McCarthy Tétrault is committed to our obligations under the Calls to Action set out by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Below are some of our initiatives designed to advance reconciliation. 

A Legal and Strategic Advisor on Indigenous Initiatives to guide our efforts

In 2020, McCarthy Tétrault appointed former litigation partner John Brown to serve as our Legal and Strategic Advisor, Indigenous Initiatives. John’s family on his father’s side is Sto:lo whose traditional territory is the Fraser River Valley in British Columbia. To our knowledge, there is no other role of this kind in a law firm in North America.

Reconciliation Committee

Our Reconciliation Committee, chaired by our Legal and Strategic Advisor, Indigenous Initiatives, is currently engaged in the following initiatives:

  • creating a Reconciliation Action Plan for the Firm;
  • developing and implementing strategies to recruit and retain Indigenous lawyers and staff;
  • working with Indigenous community partners to raise awareness of the legacy of residential schools, close gaps and remove barriers for Indigenous people, and support Indigenous Peoples and cultures;

Expanding opportunities for Indigenous Students

Through our partnership with Indspire, McCarthy Tétrault has extended its funding for five national scholarships for Indigenous law students over five years, which will assist 25 students with their law school expenses over this period.

McCarthy Tétrault’s ground-breaking 1L Black and Indigenous Summer Program, along with the Firm’s annual Indigenous Student Open House are designed to remove the historical and practical barriers that can discourage Indigenous students from applying to large, full-service firms.

McCarthy Tétrault has partnered with Osgoode Hall Law School to support the ground-breaking Anishinaabe Law Camp and Rama First Nation. The Firm’s gift will fund the camp for three years.


Centering Cultural Competency

The Firm is proud to be the significant partner of the CBA’s Truth and Reconciliation Toolkit, an online tool to assist law firms in creating reconciliation action plans. McCarthy Tétrault is also leading the way by sponsoring registration for all employees interested in taking “The Path – Your Journey Through Indigenous Canada”, a program to help participants overcome the lack of awareness of the historical treatment of Indigenous peoples in Canada. We encourage every member of our Firm to take this excellent course.

Increasing Access to Justice

  • We partner on an Indigenous Human Rights Program with Pro Bono Students Canada, the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres and the Ontario and Canadian Human Rights Commissions. This program provides members of the Indigenous community with pro bono information, advice and legal representation relating to human rights violations.
  • Lawyers at our Firm volunteer with the Giiwedin Anang Council of Aboriginal Legal Services which provides an Aboriginal Alternative Dispute Resolution program for mediating child welfare, custody, and access disputes involving Indigenous families using traditional teachings and Talking Circles.
  • The Firm acted as e-discovery counsel for The National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls. This Report, released in 2019, includes 231 “Calls to Justice” that need to be addressed by Canadians in order to end the genocide against Indigenous women and girls.
  • Our Firm is acting on behalf of First Nations across Canada, in class action litigation against the Canadian government for failing to provide regular access to clean, safe drinking water on reserves. In July 2021 our clients signed an agreement in principle with the government that provides significant benefits for class members. Our McCarthy Tétrault team is national, multi-disciplinary, and includes Indigenous lawyers and students, and we have been privileged to work with co-counsel at Olthuis Kleer Townshend LLP.

Mentoring Indigenous Youth

  • We partner with The Martin Family Initiative Mentorship Program for Indigenous students, a Canada-wide program that aims to improve education for Indigenous children and address the wider determinants that influence their educational outcomes. Our lawyers and staff serve as mentors to Indigenous students in Grades 9 through 12.

Investing in Indigenous Communities 

  • $1M of our five year, $5M United Way gift is directed toward agencies that serve Indigenous Peoples including the Diamond Willow Youth Lodge in Calgary, the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto, and United Way of the Lower Mainland School’s Out Programs (which operates in 29 locations across Vancouver).

For more information please contact our Chief Inclusion Officer, Charlene Theodore at [email protected], or our Legal and Strategic Advisor, Indigenous Initiatives, John Brown at [email protected].