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Quebec bar honours lawyer who works in Cree, Indigenous communities

'I'm particularly honoured to receive this distinction,' says Christian Leblanc, who is also the prosecutor-in-chief for the Viens Commission.

'I'm particularly honoured to receive this distinction,' says Christian Leblanc

Christian Leblanc is the prosecutor-in-chief of the provincial inquiry into how Indigenous people are treated by certain public services in Quebec. He's been recognized by the Quebec bar for his contributions. (Marc-Antoine Mageau/Radio-Canada)

The Bar of Quebec is recognizing Christian Leblanc, the prosecutor-in-chief for the Viens Commission, with the honour of lawyer emeritus. 

Leblanc was one of 26 lawyers recognized Tuesday by the Quebec Bar Association, and the only lawyer on the list from the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region in western Quebec. 

"I'm particularly honoured to receive this distinction," said Leblanc, who was nominated by colleagues for whom he has a "profound respect." 

"It was really a surprise." 

The Viens Commission, also referred to as the Commission d'enquête sur les relations entre les Autochtones et certains services publics au Québec: écoute, réconciliation et progrès, is the provincial inquiry looking into how Indigenous people are treated by certain public services. Leblanc has been involved with the commission since it was created in 2016.

Three key members of the Viens Commission: prosecutor-in-chief Christian Leblanc, left, chair Jacques Viens, and Janet Mark, co-ordinator for Indigenous communities. (Myriam Grenier/TC Média)

In a press release, the Quebec Bar Association said it has given this distinction to a handful of people each year since 2007 to recognize lawyers who "strengthen the image and influence" of the profession. 

Leblanc has spent a good part of his legal career working with Indigenous communities, including many years with the travelling court around Amos, Que., particularly in Cree territory, as well as in Nunavik. 

He was the first prosecutor to work out of Nunavik when the Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions first opened an office there, according to Leblanc.

Leblanc says his "social and community involvement" likely played a role in the recognition. 

"In small towns in regions when a lawyer engages with a social cause and volunteers, it reflects well on the image of the profession," said Leblanc.

With this distinction, the honorific Ad.E. will be added after Leblanc's name, which stands for Advocatus Emeritus.

The official award ceremony for the distinction will take place in Montreal on Nov. 20.

With files from Radio-Canada

The Viens Commission was named after Jacques Viens, the retired Quebec superior court justice who is presiding over the commission. (Marc-Antoine Mageau/Radio Canada)