672 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 77 PART 5 SEPTEMBER 2019
by corporations, governments, law enforcement agencies and NGOs from
around the world. One well-known professor referred to me as a fierce
advocate. It was at the tail end of my professional social work master’s
degree that I decided to pursue a law degree.
It was only through the support of others in a variety of communities that
I was able to reach these heights, but still something was missing in my life;
I knew it had to do with my voice. I felt that despite my literary achievements,
international advocacy platform and media attention, I was still not
being taken seriously enough on significant social issues affecting our communities.
For example, I have been warning people about the normalization
of right-wing extremism for the last 15 years. Now we are faced with some
fundamental questions about the direction of our society and how we ought
to broach the legacy of systemic racism and the growing threat of right-wing
extremism in our communities. I am hopeful that my personal transformation—
from law breaker to lawyer—will contribute to helping others understand
that change is possible, but it takes a lot of hard work.
When speaking at events to members of the community, professionals,
police, national security teams, governments and corporations, my message
includes practical solutions to serious problems that Canadians often
deny even exist. In speaking to these issues I have been known to ruffle
feathers. When I was engaged on a particular campaign of shedding light on
local hate crimes, which I believed law enforcement was not taking seriously
enough, a law enforcement representative threatened to charge me
with a crime. There was no basis that I could see for charging me, and I
thought the threat was intended to deter me from further bringing light to
the issue. This encounter, which highlighted for me systemic barriers to
countering right-wing extremism in the community and the potential for
abuses of power, prompted me to apply to law school.
I was determined and wanted (and continue to want) to help people who
are not heard. I wanted to amplify the voice of people in need and my own.
I want to hold systems accountable when necessary. I dug deep to process
my anger through productive means to result in ends that benefit communities.
I rode my motorcycle to Alberta and wrote the LSAT. It turns out that
was a fruitful pursuit, as I was accepted to the Thompson Rivers University
Faculty of Law.
HOLDING ON FOR THE RIDE
When I went to law school, I had no intention of actually practising law. In
fact, I had told one of the law school administrators that I just wanted to
understand law so I could advocate more effectively and contribute to
changing particular laws. I also hoped to hold one of my childhood abusers