Roster Update

#InvestInWomen: International Women’s Day

Every year, International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8; this year’s theme is Invest in women: Accelerate Progress.

At Legal Aid Alberta, we are enriched by the hundreds of women who work with us as roster lawyers and staff lawyers. Their expertise and unwavering commitment to access to justice for all Albertans changes lives across this province, every single day. We are grateful for and celebrate the talent and excellence of the women who tirelessly represent Albertans day in and day out.

Alberta women in law have been accelerators of progress throughout the province’s entire history. Some of the most famous examples include:

  • Calgary’s Alice Jamieson, whose passionate community service led to her appointment in 1914 as the British Empire’s first female judge in a juvenile court.
  • Violet King, born in Calgary in 1929, who attended law school in Edmonton and became the first Black person admitted to the Bar in Alberta as well as the first Black female lawyer in Canada. She spoke out against racism in the workplace and led a successful career which included becoming the first woman to hold an executive position with the YMCA in the United States.
  • The Rt. Hon. Beverley McLachlin, born in Pincher Creek, who was the first female Chief Justice of Canada, serving from 2000 to 2017. Justice McLachlin also served as Administrator of Canada during Governor General Clarkson’s 2005 hospitalization, during which time she gave Royal Assent to the Civil Marriage Act.

Thank you to the women of LAA who continue this Alberta tradition of fighting for access, equality and inclusion every day.

Child welfare intersecting criminal matters

On occasion, some Child Welfare clients face criminal charges that involve allegations of harming the children of the relationship. These charges could include sexual interference, assault or failure to provide the necessaries of life, among others. If the client is maintaining their innocence and intending to plead not guilty, they would be proceeding to a criminal trial. You may also be setting a trial for a Temporary Guardianship or Permanent Guardianship matter. Sometimes, due to trial availability, you may be running your child welfare trial in advance of the criminal proceedings.

It may be in the client’s best interests for you to get their consent to speak with their criminal counsel. In order for a child welfare client to successfully oppose a Temporary Guardianship Order or a Permanent Guardianship Order, they will most likely have to provide testimony at trial. If they have been charged with a crime involving the children, they will likely be asked at the child welfare trial about the allegations, in direct or cross-examination, and they are also likely to be put in the position to offer a different version of events. Whereas in criminal matters the client is not always required to testify in their own defence, their testimony in the child welfare trial could theoretically be used in the criminal matter. Criminal counsel may appreciate an opportunity to discuss the implications of testimony at the child welfare trial with their client and turn the client’s attention to the practical realities and dangers of testifying. Their counsel may recommend not testifying to avoid the risk of increasing chances of conviction.

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