THE Canadian Bar Association, BC Branch (CBABC) acclaimed three outstanding legal professionals on June 23 at its annual branch awards luncheon in Richmond.
Equality and Diversity Award
This award celebrates a lawyer who has worked with great dedication to advance equality within the legal professional or generally in British Columbia. Recipient Zara Suleman (Suleman Family Law) has been a human rights champion since before her legal career began – as an advocate, an educator and a mentor. She runs a successful family law firm, showing outstanding leadership and working tirelessly to address diversity and inclusion across the legal community and among the public at large. She diligently advocates against discrimination of marginalized people and pushes for change at all levels of government. She is noted for a unique ability to perform grueling, frontline work and transition to the challenging, deep-thinking work of systemic and policy change.
Harry Rankin, QC Pro Bono Award
This award memorializes Harry Rankin, QC’s immense support of access to justice for the poor by recognizing pro bono commitments. Recipient Gregory J. Heywood (Roper Greyell) has more than three decades experience as a labour litigator and initiated a program within his firm to increase and promote pro bono work. The program fostered a culture shift among his colleagues – instilling in junior lawyers the importance of pro bono work while he mentored them through their own pro bono experiences. Heywood’s nominators point to his lasting impact by representing people who cannot afford it. His pro bono clients have shown gratitude through sending cards and letters, to keep in touch and share their continuing successes. Heywood is also an active volunteer with North Shore Rescue.
This medal signifies outstanding contribution to the legal profession. The recipient is annually selected by the CBABC president. This year’s recipient is Justice Thomas J. Crabtree of the Supreme Court of British Columbia in Chilliwack. He grew up in BC’s Fraser Valley and practiced law there for nearly 15 years, after graduating from the University of Victoria’s Law School and receiving a call to the BC bar in 1984. Crabtree served British Columbia in the Provincial Court from 1999 to 2018 – first as a Judge and then as Chief Judge. Among his notable accomplishments in that role is his work with communities around the province to support the development of five new Indigenous and First Nations sentencing courts in North Vancouver, Duncan, Kamloops, Merritt and Prince George, and Aboriginal child protection case conferences in New Westminster. Crabtree was the first Canadian judge to engage directly with the public by hosting two live Twitter Town Halls, part of his demonstrated commitment to transparency, accountability and public access to information.
“To select our recipients was a challenging task, because BC’s legal community always brings forward truly deserving people who are working so hard to make life better in BC,” said Bill Veenstra, CBABC President. “We thank all nominees for their excellent work, and offer heartfelt congratulations to the winners. Every day they raise the bar, and we applaud their tenacity and giving nature that greatly benefits British Columbians and our legal profession.”
The Canadian Bar Association is the professional organization representing more than 36,000 lawyers, judges and law students across Canada with over 7,000 members in British Columbia.