IBA’s 32nd Annual Fall Conference

April 30, 2020

Dear Members of the Indigenous Bar Association in Canada and Esteemed IPCs,

RE: IBA’s 32nd Annual Fall Conference

I am writing in my capacity as the President of the Indigenous Bar Association in Canada (the “IBA”) with respect to our 32nd Annual Fall Conference scheduled for October 8, 9 and 10, 2020 in Edmonton, Alberta. As President of the IBA and on behalf of the Board of Directors, I am emboldened by the leadership exhibited by our members and the perseverance of the Indigenous Nations that we serve. It has been inspiring to witness the resolve of our members across the country as they have rapidly and decisively responded to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic and ensuing measures taken to secure the safety and security of communities across the globe have profoundly impacted our collective livelihood, particularly the ways in which we communicate and gather with each other. This has also been a deeply unsettling time for members of the IBA, many of whom have shifted their focus to their family members, Elders and communities, emergency preparedness and response, and the rigorous legal demands that have arisen during this pandemic. While the Board of the IBA is cognizant of the fact that many Indigenous communities are cautiously optimistic about their ability t contain the virus, we are also sensitive to the challenges that many members of the IBA will face in the coming months. There remains considerable uncertainty about the pandemic and its long-term effects on our safety, economy and mobility. That being said, we have simultaneously seen enormous advances in technology which have aided our ability to remain connected with one another.

For the abovementioned reasons, the Board of the IBA will reformat our 32nd Annual Fall Conference. This year’s conference will be comprised of discussion panels and presentations broadcast to our members via webinars and virtual presentations, which will include options for continuing professional development. We acknowledge that approach is a major shift away from our annual in-person conference setting. The IBA Annual Fall Conference has played a central role in building a resilient, well-respected and collegial community within the Indigenous bar. We
remain committed to maintaining our members’ connection with one another and are currently exploring alternative means for connecting in the fall, in the form of receptions in various locations throughout the country. We will recommence our in-person annual fall conferences beginning in 2021.

The Board is dedicated to ensuring that our members are informed of the recent shifts in the Canadian legal landscape, the developments in the case law and advancements in Indigenous law in Canada. To date, this has been one of the most eventful years for the IBA and it has been enriched by the opportunities we have had to work with Indigenous peoples and organizations across the country. We look forward to sharing this information with you in the coming months. In the interim, we will provide details surrounding the format, dates and theme of this year’s webinar conference shortly. If there are topics you would like to see included in our 2020 conference, please do not hesitate to let us know.

We thank you for your tremendous efforts in advancing Indigenous rights and interests in Canada, and look forward to your participation this year.

Respectfully,

[Original signed]

Drew Lafond
President, Indigenous Bar Association in Canada
dlafond@indigenousbar.ca