IBA Announces Changes to 33rd Annual Conference (October 2021)

Tansi IBA Members,

I am writing in my capacity as President of the Indigenous Bar Association in Canada (the “IBA”) and on behalf of the IBA’s Board of Directors to inform you of changes to the IBA’s 33rd Annual Conference originally scheduled to take place in Edmonton on October 21, 22 and 23, 2021. In the last year, we have witnessed dramatic shifts that will impact the Indigenous legal landscape for generations, including: national legislation affirming the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; increasing advocacy on addressing the legacies of residential schools; and policy moves that are starting to recognize our multi-juridical reality. We are excited to present our 2021 conference under the theme of “Sharing Experiences Towards a Shared Future.” We will welcome distinguished Indigenous speakers and panelists to share their experiences as Indigenous communities look at realizing transformative change.

Due to the recent changes in Alberta’s COVID-19 public health measures, which limit in-person gatherings to 10 people, the Board of Directors has elected to host the IBA’s Annual Conference virtually this year. While we are disappointed to announce the postponement of this year’s in-person gather, we are determined to move forward: our people have always been resilient in the face of challenges, and we are committed to building off of the success of our 2020 virtual conference.

Originally, we had set aside October 21-23 for the IBA conference. We are aware that three consecutive days on zoom is a difficult ask, and therefore have moved the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Day from October 21, 2021 to November 12, 2021. The main conference days will proceed as planned, albeit virtually, on October 22-23, 2021. The IBA Student Day will also proceed as planned on October 21, 2021.
We encourage all of our members to attend our virtual conference. You can sign up this year using our website, www.indigenousbar.ca. We have a stellar line up of Indigenous speakers from across Turtle Island, and this year are also welcoming guests from New Zealand. An updated conference agenda will be posted on the IBA’s website and emailed to members this week. The revised agenda will reflect the fact that members will be joining from various time zones across Canada.

We will contact those attendees who have registered for the in-person conference to determine whether they would like to receive a full refund, or alternatively, whether they would like to apply a portion of their conference fees to register for the virtual conference.

I understand that the IBA’s members attend the IBA conference to obtain CPD hours. We are committed to obtaining the maximum number of CPD hours for our members, and will provide details regarding the number of accredited hours for each province and territory as soon as they are available. The IBA is also planning stand-alone CPD events, available for free to members, that will take place over the course of the next year.

We have heard from IBA members that many are planning small IBA conference “watch parties” and networking events. The IBA encourages these gatherings, where it is safe to do so and the attendees take all necessary steps to follow COVID-19 regulations or applicable public health orders. If an individual or group of IBA members would like to plan a public gathering for IBA members in your region, either to watch the conference or to network after the conference day is done, please contact IBA Secretary, Laura Sharp, at lsharp@nncfirm.ca with a proposal for your event, including details regarding the proposed cost and a plan to follow COVID-19 protocols. Limited funding may be available on an as needed basis to pay for room rentals or food for these gatherings, with events for students being prioritized. Once gathering plans have been finalized, the IBA Board will inform the members of the details of these gatherings, including information regarding registration and the maximum number of people who may attend, as well as details regarding COVID-19 precautions. All attendees must provide proof of vaccination and their contact information for contact tracing.

The amount of funding available for small IBA gatherings is contingent on sponsorships. If you or your employer may be in a position to sponsor this year’s IBA conference and informal gatherings, please contact Laura Sharp at the coordinates above and she will send you a sponsorship package. Support from businesses, organizations, and law firms across the country helps us bring the Indigenous legal community together to celebrate successes, learn from one another, and support the advancement of Indigenous rights and justice. We at the IBA are incredibly grateful for the support of our sponsors who are making this year’s conference possible.

Lastly, in conjunction with the conference, IBA Board is planning at least one small, in-person gathering to honour this year’s IPC recipient (to be announced at the annual conference). The gathering will be invite-only in the IPC’s home city; however, the IBA Board will ensure the acceptance speech of this year’s IPC recipient will be broadcast virtually to all members.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact myself at the coordinates below, or our wonderful administrative support, Anne Chalmers, at achalmers@indigenousbar.ca.


Drew Lafond
President, Indigenous Bar Association in Canada