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rights. Matt did that, seeing the railway litigation through to winning decisions,
a financial settlement and the return of the reserve land to the
Squamish Nation. The firm’s history of working with the Squamish Nation
was already a long one, going back to the early 1960s (only a few years after
it was no longer illegal under the Indian Act for First Nations to hire
lawyers). The relationship with the Squamish Nation was fostered by Matt
throughout the many years that followed.
The list of cases Matt litigated is far too long to include here. He has
appeared at every level of court on many occasions. He fought each case
with total commitment and his best advocacy. He became widely trusted by
the court: a committed advocate but not prone to overstatement, clear in
illuminating the issues, even the most complex.
Among the salient cases that marked his career was the Ahousaht litigation,
the first civil claim to recognize constitutionally protected commercial
fishing rights in Canada. The case ended up being an 18-year undertaking.
The arc of the litigation encompasses the many facets of the skills and the
experiences bound up in Matt’s legal practice: meeting with communities,
fishers, elders; preparing and filing the claim in 2003; opening trial and successfully
proposing to hold court for several days at an Ahousaht community
on Flores Island (getting ready for court in the gym changeroom,
discovering he had forgotten his tabs and needing to duct tape on a small
set borrowed from co-counsel); navigating years of trials, appeals, more trials;
moving from the Nuu-chah-nulth singing and drumming on the courthouse
steps after victory and declaration to the further years of trial,
working 16-hour days out of a 10' x 10' office across the street from the
courthouse with co-counsel Lisa Glowacki and a diet dominated by crackers;
and receiving the ultimate and final decision from the Court of Appeal
after Matt’s appointment to the bench (in fact, on the very day he began his
new judicial career).
During those years, Matt and his wife, Lisa Osoba, had two children who
grew into teenagers before the case was done.
Matt had the very good fortune of meeting Lisa when he was clerking at
the B.C. Supreme Court and she at the Court of Appeal in 1997. They have
been together ever since. Lisa has been a bedrock, balancing and supporting
the intensity of Matt’s litigation schedule with creating and maintaining a
loving home and family and her own legal career. Lisa is one of the most
delightful and good-natured people. She is smart and fun, with a lively wit
and a love of laughter.
Matt’s career as a lawyer was dedicated to advocating for First Nations’
rights and interests. He remained humbled and honoured to be trusted with