Diversonomics Season 5 Episode 2

Holding space: A new era of mindfulness in Indigenous allyship

08 December 2020

Sometimes, doing the right thing is not always easy… and for many people, becoming an ally to a marginalized or systematically oppressed population is just that – the right thing, but far from easy. Many questions can begin to surface, such as: Where do I start? What if I say or do the wrong thing? I don’t have a personal tie to this particular marginalized community, so how can I really help? These are the questions that can keep potential allies up at night.

On this week’s episode of Diversonomics, our co-hosts are joined by Gowling WLG associate lawyer Alyssa Flaherty-Spence. Alyssa shares the pros and pressures of being an Indigenous lawyer in big law, tips on how to effectively create and hold space for meaningful Indigenous representation within the legal space, and what all Canadians can do to dismantle the status quo when it comes to the mistreatment and underrepresentation of Indigenous peoples in Canada.

Episode tip:

“I think it is okay to say the wrong thing. I think what's more important though, are for allies and for others to […] not take things personal if someone does acknowledge that it is wrong, but to be open to hearing that. It’s one thing to be wrong or too scared to say something wrong, but it's another thing to get defensive when someone calls you out on it.”

— Alyssa Flaherty-Spence, associate lawyer, Gowling WLG




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This program will count for up to 30 minutes of EDI Professionalism credit toward the mandatory CPD requirements of the Law Society of Ontario.

This organization has been approved as an Accredited Provider of Professionalism Content by the Law Society of Ontario.

Episode hosts

Roberto Aburto

Roberto Aburto is a partner in Gowling WLG's Ottawa office, practising in municipal law and civil litigation, with a focus on real estate disputes, land use planning law and commercial litigation.

He is also an active member in the swimming and lifesaving community, serving on the board of directors for the Lifesaving Society (Ontario Branch) as the corporate secretary/legal adviser, and on the Lifesaving Society (National Branch) National Team Selection Committee for Lifesaving Sport.

He is also co-chair of Gowling WLG's Diversity and Inclusion Council and is committed to promoting these principles.

To learn more about Roberto, visit his biofollow with him on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.

Cindy Kou

Cindy Kou is a business law associate. She assists clients in a broad range of industries with corporate, commercial, and regulatory matters. She also regularly advises on technology law matters.

Cindy holds degrees in Common Law and Civil Law from McGill University and has worked in both common and civil law jurisdictions in Canada and abroad. She speaks French and Mandarin.

To learn more about Cindy, visit her bio or follow her on Twitter.


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