894 THE ADVOCATE VOL. 75 PART 6 NOVEMBER 2017 Importantly, at the BCCLA, I watched as leading junior and senior members of the bar took on complex constitutional cases for free. Lawyers like Joe Arvay, Q.C., Sheila Tucker, Q.C., Jason Gratl, Michael Feder, Elin Sigurdson, Tim Dickson, Paul Champ and Alison Latimer personally donated hundreds, if not thousands, of hours while I was executive director. My BCCLA summer job also introduced me to the founder of Pivot Legal Society, John Richardson. After my first evening working with him offering legal assistance at the corner of Main and Hastings, the direction of my legal career was changed forever. John scraped together resources at Pivot for me to join as a junior lawyer working on issues of housing and homelessness. At Pivot, I met dedicated and passionate young lawyers and community organizers, including the remarkable Katrina Pacey and Peter Wrinch, as well as legendary publicminded lawyers and organizers like prison law and drug-law reform advocate John Conroy, Q.C., and Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users activist Ann Livingston. More than anyone else, the people of the Downtown Eastside were my most influential teachers, strongly shaping my views about the way in which the justice system can work to either ameliorate, or compound, the challenges faced by marginalized people. For my articles I spent a year at the Vancouver Regional Office of the federal Department of Justice (“DOJ”). Senior DOJ lawyers who were very influential on me were supervising counsel like Bill Basran and Brenda Carbonnell, both dedicated public lawyers with time to pull aside an articling student for kind advice. Unsurprisingly to me, both of these leaders eventually took their turns in the top job in the Vancouver office. FIRST NATIONS AND THE LAW Growing up in Ontario with a Canadian history curriculum that was woefully incomplete, I’d had little exposure to the history and legacy of residential schools and colonialism in our country. As a law student assigned to the residential school litigation and settlement section of the DOJ, I suddenly found myself reading highly personal accounts of sexual and physical abuse, as well as stories of the attempted extinguishment of First Nation cultures and languages. That immersive education, coupled with meeting so many residential school survivors and their children living on the streets or in squalid accommodation in the Downtown Eastside, opened my eyes to the modern reality of Indigenous life in British Columbia.
Nov Advocate 2017
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