The days are getting shorter, clothing stores are bringing out their fall sweaters, and twenty-somethings are moving into their new apartments. This can only mean one thing: it’s back to school season.
For some, this means the joy of starting a new year. For others, it’s the fresh start of an exciting internship. And for some of the folks we're lucky enough to work with, it’s equal parts excitement and anxiety about beginning their law degree. For over a decade, law students across Canada have been working with Level to advocate for equitable and accessible legal systems. Level’s student chapters have led many exciting projects, from networking events to panel discussions and conferences. They have produced exceptional research--exploring the leading issues facing Canada’s justice system, from refugee rights to sustainable development.
Level is delighted to announce that we have selected “environmental justice” as our annual theme for 2018/2019! Today, recognizing and speaking out against environmental injustice is as important as ever. Unfortunately, we still live in a time where a significant number of First Nation communities in Canada are faced with boil water advisories and the effects of climate change on people can be seen and felt more than ever before. Additionally, waste by-products, mercury leaching, and a lack of access to nutritious foods disproportionately affect Indigenous and racialized communities.
Yesterday, August 12, was International Youth Day, a UN initiative to highlight the leading issues impacting young people. While the youngest generations are facing global crises from climate change to mass migration, they are standing up with the confidence and leadership to make substantial change.
This Youth Day, we at Level are celebrating some of Canada’s most impressive young people, who challenge social norms, break glass ceilings, and represent their communities as true leaders. We hope you’ll be just as inspired as we are!
For the third year in a row, Level has partnered with Northern Youth Abroad (NYA) to deliver a condensed two-day version of our IYOP workshop to Indigenous youth between the ages of 15-21. NYA is an organization cultivating youth leadership and cross-cultural awareness where Indigenous youth from Nunavut and the Northwest Territories spend several weeks exploring different parts of Canada. Throughout the program, the youth learn about history and culture, develop leadership skills, and engage in various volunteer projects. Last Thursday and Friday, Level hosted an IYOP workshop in Ottawa with the sixteen youth participating in this year’s NYA Next program.
In 2016, the Liberal Ontario government unveiled an updated curriculum that would include Indigenous history for elementary and secondary schools. The program, crafted in collaboration with residential school survivors, First Nations, Métis and Inuit partners, was considered a step forward both in the province’s education system and their commitment to reconciliation.
On June 22, Level volunteer Maitland Shaheen attended the Luminato festival's presentation of Amal Clooney in Conversation with Nick Clooney. The Clooneys shared their thoughts on the state of justice in 2018, the global impact of the international refugee crisis, and the positive impact of feminism and youth engagement.
In 2017, the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin retired from her role as Chief Justice of Canada, after an impressive 17 years on the bench. As the first woman Chief Justice (and the longest serving!) students, lawyers and legal professionals have much to learn about law and life from the former Chief Justice.
June is National Indigenous History Month and we are proud to celebrate the vibrant cultures, unique histories, and crucial contributions of Indigenous peoples to the development of Canada. It is also a time for all Canadians to critically reflect on how we can collectively advance reconciliation—a process that involves acknowledging and repairing harms, rebuilding and forging new relationships, healing, and finding new ways forward.
From January to April, Indigenous youth in grade 7 & 8 from William Whyte Middle School gathered with volunteer Indigenous lawyers and law students for a total of 10 sessions to learn the basics of the Canadian criminal justice system and the incorporation of Indigenous practices.
Year after year, Level is lucky to work with some of Canada's most impressive and ambitious law students. This year is no exception! In 2017/18 student executives at Level's Université de Montréal Chapter accepted submissions from across Canada and edited and published a journal related to Level's 2017/18 theme: Advancing Reconciliation in the Justice Sector.