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To celebrate Access to Justice Week, each day of the week Pro Bono Law Saskatchewan (PBLS) is sharing stories from our volunteers. All the volunteers featured this week are in-house counsel or work for the government. PBLS volunteers directly support low-income people in Saskatchewan who would otherwise not be able to access a lawyer.
Sandra Bobyk, Senior Crown Counsel, Public Guardian and Trustee, Justice and Attorney General
I assisted a young woman who had become fearful of lethal reprisal from her wealthy and ultra conservative family back in her home country. They had put a bounty on her head for, in their view, besmirching the family’s honour. The young woman had become pregnant out of wedlock after her extreme naivety made her an easy target for a man she trusted. Prior to coming to Canada, she had never even been allowed to set foot outside of her family home without being accompanied by a male relative. So, Saskatchewan presented as a strange and exciting new world. I assisted her in making a claim for refugee status and represented her before the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada.
It was a very happy and relieving day when we received the news that her claim had been successful. Unfortunately, our refugee and immigration system is opaque and difficult to navigate for lawyers, never mind individuals with linguistic, cultural or educational barriers. The reality is that whatever skill level you bring to the task, you nevertheless will be helping greatly. Assisting newcomers is rewarding and you will never have more appreciative clients!
Sandra Bobyk volunteers on the Immigration and Refugee Panel.
Stephanie Yang, Sasktel
Katherine Roy, Ministry of Justice and Attorney General
One of our most memorable shared files from PBLS was an immigration file involving the medical inadmissibility of a young Afghan girl suffering from celebral palsy. She was truly remarkable not only in her physical recovery from surgery in Canada but also in achieving and surpassing her goal of attending school. Through the help of many colleagues, we were able to put together a successful application for permanent residency based on humanitarian and compassionate grounds to allow her to remain in Canada, attend school, and eventually become a permanent resident and citizen of Canada.
Witnessing this girl graduate from high school and later become a Canadian citizen remains a career highpoint. Serving on the Immigration and Refugee Panel offers both challenging and rewarding work that has a lasting impact on a personal and professional level.
Stephanie Yang and Katherine Roy volunteer on the Immigration and Refugee Panel.
Interested in volunteering? The Saskatchewan Lawyers’ Insurance Association (SLIA) provides coverage for volunteering with PBLS, even if you are exempt from paying. Learn more about pro bono and insurance coverage here. Learn more about PBLS by visiting pblsask.ca, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow us here.