The Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society (NSBS) has released a statement saying that it acknowledges and regrets the existence of systemic discrimination in the Nova Scotia justice system and within the NSBS. They have released the statement as they feel that acknowledgement of the systemic discrimination which exists within the Society is a step towards improving the society’s work in creating change and protecting the public interest.
The NSBS has defined the term systemic discrimination, to mean “a system of disproportionate opportunities or disadvantages for people with a common set of characteristics such as race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, and/or socio-economic status. For example, the mistreatment of Indigenous and Black communities throughout the justice system has been chronicled in the Marshall Inquiry, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. It has been recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada and retold through the voices of the Idle No More and Black Lives Matter movements”.
The NSBS has recognised that where systemic discrimination manifests in policies and procedures, there must be modification of policies and procedures, as well and work must be done to accommodate individual members of equity-seeking communities, including those who are members of the bar.
As a result of the acknowledgement, the society has recognised the need for action and education, launching new commitments designed to reduce barriers created by racism, unconscious bias and discrimination. This will include a comprehensive external, independent review of the NSBS regulatory policies and processes to identify and address any areas of systemic discrimination that exist within the Society. With Doug Ruck, QC appointed as the independent, external reviewer.