Gowling WLG launches Reconciliation Action Plan to advance positive change for Canada's Indigenous peoples

22 June 2020

As part of its commitment to diversity, inclusion and equality, Gowling WLG today launched its own Reconciliation Action Plan – a document designed to help the firm address Canada's mistreatment of Indigenous peoples by outlining clear ways it will make meaningful contributions to authentic reconciliation efforts.

Gowling WLG holds longstanding relationships with Canada's Indigenous peoples, having served as counsel to First Nations, Inuit and Metis groups across the country for more than half a century. With these vital relationships top of mind, the plan commits the firm to supporting reconciliation through the many ways it delivers legal services to clients – Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike – by its legal professionals and staff, and aims to ensure that everyone is culturally attuned to Indigenous-related issues, opportunities and goals.

"Canada's Indigenous peoples, businesses and governments are essential stakeholders in the work we do as a firm," said Peter Lukasiewicz, CEO of Gowling WLG Canada and chair of its national Diversity & Inclusion Council. "This plan is an expression of our profound respect for Indigenous history, culture, traditions, laws and institutions. It reflects our desire to help right past wrongs, build cultural competency and move forward together in a positive and impactful way."

In alignment with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's distinct calls to action, the Reconciliation Action Plan sees the firm committing to:

  • Improving the overall understanding of the detrimental impacts of the imposition of colonial laws and policies on Indigenous peoples
  • Fostering greater respect for Indigenous peoples, institutions and laws
  • Increasing appreciation for the applicability of Indigenous laws within Canada's legal system
  • Engaging with Indigenous communities and organizations to better understand their unique needs and support their economic development goals
  • Undertaking strategic collaborations to provide intercultural competence training for firm personnel, enhance the availability of culturally competent legal services, and offer pro bono legal services that advance reconciliation
  • Recruiting and supporting Indigenous staff, lawyers and law students
  • Ensuring firm events are more inclusive of Indigenous people
  • Creating inclusive spaces for Indigenous staff, professionals and clients

"Gowling WLG's core cultural values of diversity and inclusion are woven into everything we do, including our Reconciliation Action Plan," said Jaimie Lickers, leader of Gowling WLG's national Indigenous Law Group and, as a member of the Onondaga Nation of Six Nations of the Grand River, the first Indigenous woman to join the firm's partnership.

"There is much work to be done, but I am proud to have contributed to the development of this plan and to be a part of a firm that has placed such a strong emphasis on advancing the interests of Indigenous people in Canada," she added.

In addition to Lickers, other key contributors to the plan include associate Alyssa Flaherty-Spence, an Indigenous law practitioner of Cree and Inuit ancestry, partners Neena Gupta and Roberto Aburto, co-chairs of the firm's Diversity & Inclusion Council, and Dr. Rebecca Bromwich, the firm's diversity and inclusion manager. Numerous members of the firm's national Indigenous Law Group were also consulted.

The launch of the plan immediately follows National Indigenous Peoples Day, which recognizes the extensive contributions that Indigenous peoples have made, and continue to make, to Canada's economic, social and political health.

The Reconciliation Action Plan is Gowling WLG's latest initiative that seeks to embed diversity and inclusion into the firm's DNA, with the goal of creating a better, more inclusive workplace for its people and providing superior service to its clients. Learn more about diversity and inclusion at Gowling WLG.