Canadian Lawyers Abroad event focuses on Canada's north

The CLA's annual Rights of Spring cocktail party with special guest speaker, Phil Fontaine

By Christina Cheung

On Thursday May 10th, 2012

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Canadian Lawyers Abroad held its annual Rights of Spring cocktail party April 26 at Globalive’s SHAMBA foundation in Toronto.

While CLA is known as a charity that uses law to improve the lives of those in developing nations around the world, this year’s event highlighted the organization’s decision to look inward and focus on Canada’s north.

Phil Fontaine, the evening’s special guest speaker and former chief of the National Assembly of First Nations (pictured above), addressed the difficulties Canada’s Aboriginal people face, telling the crowd that children from the north rarely aspire to become doctors, teachers or lawyers. He emphasized the importance of CLA’s new Dare to Dream program, which pairs Aboriginal students with lawyers and law students who mentor them and help them reach their potential.

Also in attendance was the mayor of Iqaluit, Madeleine Redfern, the first Inuk to serve a clerkship at the Supreme Court of Canada. She joked about how Toronto’s traffic is far more frustrating than the cold weather she endures in the north. On a more serious note, Redfern spoke about the difference it makes for the youth of Nunavut to see CLA’s law students setting an example by volunteering in the community. There is only one private practice law firm in Iqaluit and it consists of a single lawyer, she noted.

Click here to see photos from the event.


Photo: Phil Fontaine and CLA executive director Catherine McKenna (far right) with Susan Spence and Jen Guerard, both senior counsel at GE Capital.