On February 1, 2022, many in the Chinese community will celebrate the Lunar New Year.
In the Chinese tradition, we celebrate the year of the Water Tiger. The sign of Water is commonly associated with change and movement in Chinese astrology. I can think of no better elemental sign to symbolize our world as we emerge from an environment dominated by measures to minimize the dangers of the COVID-19 virus. Yet, the astrological sign for tiger represents a time to meet challenges and to seize opportunities. What better way to frame 2022 – a time to seize opportunities brought by the many changes our world, and our profession, have undergone in the last two years.
Twenty twenty-two will challenge the legal order and how our profession responds in many ways. As we enter its third year, the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to test the resiliency of our legal institutions, as citizens and legislatures grapple with what it means to live with this disease long term. The work of the American congressional committee studying the attack on the US Capitol in 2021 will reveal troubling fractures in our neighbour’s democracy. Conflict looms in the Ukraine as I write this post. Most expect the Chinese government to further consolidate authoritarian rule. Here in Canada, the important and necessary work of truth and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples will challenge the historical legitimacy of the Canadian legal order.
Yet, through these tumultuous events, people turn to lawyers to maintain the rule of law, to see justice done, to ensure peace, order, and good government. We know that even in times of great change and troubling events, the arc of history bends towards justice and lawyers are a major part of bending that arc.
It was only seventy-five years ago – in 1947 – when the Canadian federal government repealed the Chinese Exclusion Act; many of the programs and rules remained operative from the statute until 1967. Since that major change, the Canadian Chinese community has been the tiger, meeting challenges and seizing opportunities. We are now judges, members of legislative bodies, and Q.C.s. Organizations like the Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers provide support, membership, and advancement for Asian lawyers.
I remain optimistic that in 2022 our profession will continue to benefit as more people from diverse backgrounds, communities, and walks of life join our ranks and bring their voices to the challenge of building a better profession and a more just society.
So, in this year of the Water Tiger, I wish you good luck in navigating the changes we know will come in 2022. And, particularly, to my fellow lawyers, especially my colleagues at FACL, I say “Gung Hay Fat Choy!”.