104 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 78 PART 1 JANUARY 2020
After law school, Don decided that he needed to work somewhere close
to a really good ski hill. He apparently had a lead in Cranbrook, but with
what was then called Tod Mountain (now Sun Peaks Resort) only a short
drive away, Kamloops had a particularly attractive appeal. He moved to
Kamloops in 1986 and took an articling position with the venerable firm of
Fulton & Company. While he no doubt learned many things there, he realized
two things very early on in his legal career: first, he wanted to have his
own firm; second, he wanted to help as many people as he could.
Don founded Don Campbell Law in 1987 and ran it for 32 years. In the
early years, he frequently served as duty counsel (which can be one of the
hardest jobs in a courthouse), helping people both in and out of custody
who do not have lawyers and are often going through extreme periods of
distress in their lives. He was a dedicated lawyer. In his practice he applied
empathy, compassion, endless patience, his intellect and his humour in a
way that gave hope to thousands of people throughout his career.
Although Don practised in Kamloops his entire career, some of his cases
took him around the country, including all the way to the Supreme Court of
Canada. A notable case of Don’s was R. v. Bjornstrom, or what more of us
would remember as “the Bushman of the Shuswap” case. He was also counsel
in R. v. Pena, which is remembered as the “Gustafsen Lake Standoff”
case. Although Don enjoyed the spectacle of these cases, the vast majority
of the cases he did were not the subject of media attention and brought him
no glory. His work was mostly about serving people who were voiceless,
powerless and penniless, and whose lives were often in states of despair.
His gift was to give many of those people hope—to make them smile despite
whatever adversity they may be going through. This was his skill, and it was
the cornerstone of his service and his ministry.
The best chapter of Don’s life began 22 years ago when he met the love
of his life, Sandy, on October 7, 1997. They were married on July 25, 1999.
Don stepped into the role of loving father to Sandy’s three daughters,
Kirstin, Jailene and Chianne, who benefited from his support and friendship
from childhood through to parenthood. Over the past ten years Don got
to play another of his most cherished roles: grandfather to Alexander,
Isabella, Sofia, Maximus, Elizabeth and Abigail. Because he knew I did not
ski or skydive, and because I have two young girls of my own, when Don
and I were not talking about our current cases, we mostly talked about our
families. Don loved his family very much. At his funeral and reception, I
learned—although it came as no real surprise—that Sandy received a bouquet
of flowers on the 7th and 25th of every month for 20 years!
Seven years ago, when I was a law student on the cusp of beginning my
career as a lawyer in Kamloops, I immediately became aware of Don Camp-