In an effort to showcase the work Legal Aid Alberta does to help Albertans understand and protect their legal rights, staff participated in the third annual Indigenous Students Career Day at Edmonton City Hall on March 12.
Andrea Menard, Manager of the Metis Youth Advocacy Program, represented Legal Aid Alberta at the event which saw hundreds of students from across Edmonton and Alexander First Nation participate in a number of events related to the justice system. The career day was an opportunity for Indigenous youth to learn more about the job opportunities within the justice system.
Students heard presentations from a number of prominent Indigenous members of the justice system, including Federal Court Justice Tony Mandamin, Provincial Court Justice Ivan Ladaceur, and Inuit lawyer and throatsinger Jenna Broomfield.
“In the spirit of UNDRIP and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, it is vital Legal Aid is involved with connecting with Indigenous youth about Indigenous careers in the legal field,” said Menard. “We had a chance to talk about our professions and role model to youth that they can achieve careers in the justice system, no matter what backgrounds they come from.”
‘There to support the youth’
Students also had the opportunity to watch court proceedings and interact with people working in the justice system.
“Students got a ‘close up shot’ on Indigenous judges, lawyers, police, probation, Law Society of Alberta, the University of Alberta Faculty of Native Studies, Fair Practices Office, and our Metis Youth Advocacy Program,” said Menard. “We were present to share our stories and be accessible to Indigenous youth who may have had a negative experience in court or with the police prior to this day.
“We were there to support the youth and give them affirmation that they to, could be in our positions soon. The youth got to ask us questions about our careers and how we got there; and what were the pluses and minuses about our jobs. They also got to tell us where they would like to be in the next few years in life.”
From left, the people in the photo are: Inuit Lawyer Jenna Broomfield, Indigenous Lawyer Koren Lightening Earle, who is also the Indigenous Initiatives Liaison at the Law Society of Alberta, Honourable Leonard S. Mandamin, a judge at the Federal Court of Canada, and Andrea Menard, Manager of Legal Aid Alberta’s Metis Youth Advocacy Program.