THE ADVOCATE 275
VOL. 77 PART 2 MARCH 2019
muted from Canmore each day by hitchhiking. Although Nitya was generally
picked up by kind and well-meaning drivers, on one occasion she was
picked up by someone who disclosed he was planning to drive off the road.
Fortunately, Nitya managed to convince the driver that doing so would be
a bad idea, and they both arrived safely.
Nitya completed the remaining credits required for her undergraduate
degree at night school at the University of Alberta. She decided to take the
LSAT because, while in a bookstore, she started flipping through the LSAT
preparation manual and liked the questions. She scored in the 99th percentile.
In law school, Nitya gravitated towards clubs and groups that wanted
to use law to improve the lives of the most disadvantaged. While involved
in a protest, Nitya once found herself caught between police and Marxist-
Leninists, only to be saved when a fellow student threw her clear of the
fray. She loved and excelled at legal reasoning. Her greatest surprise in law
school was how well she did. She chose, however, to keep this to herself,
which may explain why, in the history of her law school, hers was the only
graduating year in which the gold medallist chose to remain anonymous (so
the cat is now out of the bag). Nitya was thrilled by the award until she
learned it did not come with money. So she took the “gold” medal in to have
it melted down but was told it was only gold-plated. She still has it somewhere,
no doubt hidden from sight.
On completion of law school in 1989, Nitya clerked for Justice Le Dain at
the Supreme Court of Canada. This was a particularly exciting time to be at
the court. It was the early days of the Charter and the court was grappling
with some of its first cases involving freedom of expression, the application
of the Charter to the common law, freedom of association, cruel and
unusual punishment, equality rights and the constitutionality of abortion
laws. The work was challenging but also extraordinarily rewarding. But
more exciting than that, it was there that Nitya met the love of her life, Rob
Grant, who was also clerking at the court.
While working late one night in the courthouse, the fire alarm rang.
Nitya and Rob (for unexplained reasons) ignored it and carried on working
until they smelled smoke. They descended from the top floor down the
marble staircases to the emergency exit faster than any two people in the
history of the court, or so the story goes. When they made it outside, there
were flames on the roof. The fire truck arrived a few minutes later and they
immediately got to work, soaking Justice Wilson’s office in the process.
Radio Canada was first on scene. Nitya was the only person present who
could be interviewed about the fire in French.