Presenting the Ethnocultural Diversity Committee

Article diffused on January 22, 2014

To perform its mission of protecting the public, the Bar of Montreal can rely on the thoughts and suggestions resulting from the participation of its 400 valuable volunteers, who serve on some 40 different committees.  Their discussions also allow the Bar of Montreal to know the concerns of its members and orient its actions accordingly. The creation of a joint committee on ethnocultural diversity with the Young Bar Association of Montreal (YBAM) is a fine example of what listening to our members can bring about. 

Creation of the Committee on Ethnocultural Diversity

This committee was established in 2007. Its terms of reference at that time called for providing better representation for the members of cultural communities within the Bar and advising the Boards of Directors of the Bar and the AJBM on this subject. 

Initially, the committee recommended that one seat on the Board of the Bar of Montreal be reserved for a member from a cultural community. Instead, the Board gave the committee a mandate to encourage members of cultural communities to become more involved in the Bar’s activities. 

The first action by the committee along those lines was to invite the representatives of various associations of lawyers from the cultural communities to join them. The Lord Reading Law Society and the Association canadienne italienne des juristes du Québec responded to that invitation and are still present. 

The committee also organizes an annual conference on human rights.  The inspiration of Mtre Stephen G. Schenke when he was Bâtonnier for Montréal, this popular event has provided an opportunity to examine such topical subjects as:

  • The challenges of ethnocultural diversity within the legal profession;
  • The impact of various religions on Québec practice;
  • Racial profiling racial;
  • The border between individual and collective rights.

Winds of change

In the fall of 2012, the members of the committee felt the need to clarify its terms of reference and adjust the committee’s activities, given the growing proportion of members of the Bar from cultural communities, a situation that reflects the composition of Montréal’s population.

One Bar for all!

Based on this new approach, the committee will now be focussing on making the members of the Bar aware of the demographic reality, helping the integration of members from cultural communities within the Bar and being attentive to their needs. 

The committee will continue to offer high quality information sessions on subjects of particular importance to the members of cultural communities. This will enable all members of the Bar of Montreal and the AJBM to develop their understanding of the realities of the cultural communities. 

The committee hopes that its new orientation will facilitate interaction between members of the Bar and the people it encounters in the course of their duties, whatever their cultural origin. 

The committee invites you to read its Newsletter to learn more about its activities.

The members of this committee for the year 2013-2014 are : 
Mtre Noël Saint-Pierre, president, Mtres Attieha Chamaa, Maria Giustina Corsi, Keith Hanna, Steven Mark Kmec, Awatif Lakhdar, Zeïneb Mellouli, Donald Michelin, Hervé Ndedi Penda, Catherine Ouimet, general director of YBAM, Aline Uyen Khanh Quach and René Saint-Léger.