“For most people today the sight of a wild orca is extremely rare. Even for Haisla people growing up in Kitamaat such a sighting is not an ordinary event, though because of our proximity to the sea, seeing a halx̄inix° is part of most people’s life experience. For an artist like me, the witnessing of many such moments has allowed me to infuse my work with some of the wonder and awe I still feel when I am privileged to see the halx̄inix° in its natural environment.” Lyle Wilson, Haisla Artist


Reconciliation exists as a vital path towards acknowledging and healing the wrongs and harms that have been (and continue to be) experienced by Indigenous Nations, communities, and individuals throughout Turtle Island. To some, reconciliation is the revitalization of the relationship between Indigenous peoples and all Canadians.  To others, a respectful relationship never existed, and must be established and maintained for the first time. Consensus on what reconciliation means, and how it can be achieved, is not easy to find.  What is clear, however, is that reconciliation requires self-education and transformative action on the part of both individuals and organizations alike.

Why re-evaluate our relationships?

The 2015 publication of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Final Report and 94 Calls to Action marked a significant milestone in society’s engagement with the concept of reconciliation. Among other things, the TRC report and Calls to Action have led individuals, businesses, institutions, and governments to be increasingly aware that a necessary part of reconciliation entails re-evaluating the relationships held between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples across all facets of society.

Re-evaluating relationships is a foundational step in the reconciliation path. It involves thoughtful introspection and reflection on how we – and the many systems and structures in which we live and work – are all implicated by the demands of creating a harmonious and just future. Re-evaluating relationships also helps to identify and commit to concrete actions that can help to advance reconciliation. Without transformative actions, a just relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples cannot move forward. Reconciliation is hard work, and necessarily so.

What is JFK doing to advance reconciliation and re-evaluate our relationships?

JFK’s accomplished team of legal professionals strive to advance reconciliation and justice for Indigenous peoples across Canada through our work for Indigenous clients, which includes litigation and dispute resolution, complex negotiations, economic development and governance, or consultation, accommodation and regulatory review.

While fortunate that our daily work is directly tied to the imperative of reconciliation, we recognize that meaningful reconciliation requires us to go further as individuals and as an organization. It also involves taking steps towards internal improvement and recognition of the negative role that law has played and the different role it can play going forward.

To reflect our commitment to reconciliation, JFK Law first adopted our Reconciliation Action Plan in September 2016. Since then, our Truth and Reconciliation Action Committee (TRA Committee) has endeavored to oversee a coordinated approach to reconciliation at JFK. In our everyday operations, JFK has implemented measures to prioritize utilizing Indigenous owned businesses and suppliers, Indigenous artists, and Indigenous-run spaces. In addition, our Reconciliation Action Plan is currently focused on six broad areas intended to meaningfully advance reconciliation in the legal profession and the communities in which we work:

Building Cultural Capacity

JFK is committed to the continual development of our internal cultural capacity and diversity through sensitive and inclusive hiring practices, continuing education and professional development, and an internal culture focused on supporting differences and fostering understanding. All JFK team members receive training(s) on the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and principles of ethical lawyering for Indigenous peoples. We also deliver sessions relating to the protocols that must be observed when visiting their communities and other learning opportunities to build cultural competencies. We are firmly of the view that there is no such thing as a “finished product” and consistently strive to improve our internal cultural capacity and resources.

Pro-Bono Projects

Recognizing that economic factors can undermine reconciliation efforts, JFK is committed to performing pro-bono work to support the development of Indigenous communities in ways that further the community’s own goals. The firm, and individual JFK lawyers, are currently involved in pro bono work for Indigenous peoples and organizations.

Donations Projects

As lawyers and legal professionals, we occupy a privileged place in society. Recognizing this, our organization and team members implement programs throughout the year to support Indigenous organizations and other community services through donations, drives and other initiatives.

Knowledge and Resources Project

Public knowledge and the capacity to engage with legal issues facing Indigenous peoples often lag behind the need for broader reconciliation. Accessible resources are always needed to improve education and empower further pathways to reconciliation. Over the past year, JFK’s team has been hard at work publishing informative resource tools and updates around legal topics of interest for reconciliation. For more information, please see the often-updated Resources page.

Youth Education Project

Education and empowerment of the next generation is a key pillar of reconciliation.  In recent years, JFK has added a focus on advancing education and engagement youth initiatives with youth to the work of our Reconciliation Action Plan. JFK’s TRA Committee oversees presentations to high school youth to help build understanding about Canadian and Indigenous legal traditions at an early age and to help youth learn about opportunities working in the legal profession. This has included weekly sessions for Indigenous youth about the Canadian legal system and Indigenous legal orders, Indigenous Protected and Conserved areas and other evolving areas of the law.

Post-Secondary Outreach and Mentorship

JFK has created scholarships to support Indigenous students throughout law school. In addition to financial support, members of JFK are actively engaged as mentors to Indigenous students in post secondary education.

Reconciliation is an ongoing process and JFK’s TRA Committee will continue to grow and evolve through time — there is always more work to be done. In the event you have opportunities for engagement or questions about our Reconciliation Action Plan, please contact Monique Cotton at mcotton@jfklaw.ca.

Links and Resources

Please see the following links for further reconciliation resources, and to see what other steps the legal community is taking to move forward with reconciliation:

Truth and Reconciliation Commission


Other Reconciliation Action Plans