762 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 79 PART 5 SEPTEMBER 2021
using his skills and knowledge in pursuit of the goals and rights of Indigenous
peoples. Matt’s practice was wide-ranging, and he took on whatever
areas of law were engaged by the issues his clients brought to him: tort disputes,
governance and membership issues, land regulation and, of course,
Matt naturally grew into the role of a leader in Aboriginal law and among
his peers and colleagues. There is not a lawyer at Ratcliff who has not
learned from Matt or benefitted from working alongside him on files small
and large. Matt values collaboration. He recognizes that ideas get bigger and
better when tested and talked through. More than a few precedent-setting
points of law were developed over the course of an end-of-day gathering in
the office of one of his colleagues. Matt brought to those conversations a
humility and openness as well as genuine enjoyment of the friendly and
Though now retired, John Rich remains a good friend to Matt. In addition
to mentoring him in law, John also guided Matt to becoming better at nautical
navigation, prawning and recognizing the opportunities and importance
of putting work to the side for even an hour or two to enjoy nature.
As important as Matt’s counsel work has been throughout his career, his
true happiness has always been his family. Matt spends time with his family
on Gambier Island, a refuge on a lovely little bay, with a wonderful cliff to
jump from and an aged dock on which to enjoy the view and a beverage.
His children, nephews and guests all fear and look forward to being taken
for a ride on the tube while Matt drives his boat with a free spirit and a
heavy pedal. For those who know how hard Matt works (that being everyone
who knows him), it is a heartwarming experience to visit him at Gambier
and see him relaxing and enjoying life.
Matt spoke at his swearing-in ceremony about the sad tragedy of his mom
Judith having passed away the week before he was sworn in. She was so
happy to learn of his appointment and, as Matt noted, had had the chance
to share the good news with much of greater Victoria. Matt shared with his
colleagues a video of his mom laughing, running off the dock at Gambier
with her grandchildren on a summer day not long ago. It was a happy image
that captured the spirit of life and place that imbues them. Matt’s family has
been part of the Ratcliff family throughout his career. It says a lot about a
lawyer when tears are shed by the lawyers and staff who have worked with
him for many years when he leaves the firm. Matt’s warmth and excellent
character will serve the public and the administration of justice well.
And so, we return to the happy beginning: the profession and the
province have gained a terrific addition to the bench.