Winnipeg lawyer Brad Regehr has become the first Indigenous president of the Canadian Bar Association, assuming the office on Sept. 1.
Regehr, who is a partner with Maurice Law in its Winnipeg office and practises Aboriginal law, civil litigation and administrative law, told Canadian Lawyer that he will continue the CBA’s strategic direction of focusing on young lawyers, lawyer wellness and co-chairing (with immediate past president Vivene Salmon) the CBA’s Task Force on Justice Issues Arising from COVID-19.
As well, “a big thing for me is our ongoing work on Truth and Reconciliation,” he says. “We’re doing good work, and I want to continue that good work.”
Regehr will continue communicating with members through the podcast Conversations with the President, which this year will focus on the Calls to Action in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report.
A native Winnipeger and member of the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation in Saskatchewan bordering on Manitoba, Regehr was called to the Bar of Manitoba in 1997 and has been a CBA member since law school. He has been actively involved in various leadership positions in the Association for the past 15 years, including as vice-president in 2019-2020, as a national board member, and as chair of the National Aboriginal Law Section. He also served as president of the Manitoba Bar Association for two years.
Regehr’s practice focus is aboriginal law, with administrative and civil law tying into that, and a smattering of corporate-commercial work.
“I went into law wanting to work for Indigenous people, and oriented my career towards doing that,” he says. “I feel quite passionate about being an advocate for Indigenous people within the legal system. That’s what I love doing.”
Regehr was part of the legal team that successfully defended a challenge to a First Nation’s tax laws under the First Nations Fiscal Management Act, the first litigation involving that statute. He also acted for a First Nation which became a partner in a major hydro-electric project, and has advised several First Nation on implementation issues involving land claims and flooding agreements, and in arbitrations and litigation concerning the Manitoba Treaty Land Entitlement Framework Agreement and Saskatchewan Treaty Land Entitlement Framework Agreement.