“But I Was Wearing a Suit” Mini Documentary

CLEBC | November 27, 2017

A grassroots project of a group of Indigenous Lawyers, with the support of the Continuing Legal Education Society of BC and the Law Society of BC

 

UPDATED 12/5/2017: This project was recently featured in the CBC news. Read the article: "Indigenous lawyers speak out about bias, racism at work"

"But I Was Wearing a Suit" is a mini documentary about the racism that Indigenous lawyers and law students face within the legal profession. It is a grassroots project of a group of Indigenous Lawyers, produced with the support of the Continuing Legal Education Society of BC and the Law Society of BC.

To encourage discussion about stereotyping and bias within the legal profession, Indigenous lawyers were asked to submit their stories about the racism and stereotyping they have faced in the practice of law.

Some examples that we have heard so far, include Indigenous lawyers:

  • told not to stand where lawyers stand in court rooms, as it is for lawyers only;
  • asked to leave the Barristers lounge, as it is not for native court workers;
  • asked if they were lost in the courthouse; and
  • asked when appearing in court if, in fact, they are a lawyer.

This is a great opportunity to raise “cultural competency”—for us to examine ourselves as a profession and take steps to correct unconscious bias and stereotypes about Indigenous Peoples. How we treat each other in the legal profession reflects more broadly how we treat Indigenous Peoples as clients or who are otherwise involved in the legal system.