This term I had the opportunity to check out a neat extra curricular events pertaining to my legal interests.
What an awesome event this was! Not only did the TED event bring over 2300 people from across the province together at the Orpheum Theatre, it also featured two of its 14 speakers who shared a legal paradigm. This was the perfect avenue for merging my love for innovative ideas with my love for all things legal!
The first legal speaker was Doug Schmitt, partner at Alexander Holburn Beaudin & Lang LLP. With a scientific and legal background highlighting more than three decades of experience practicing maritime law, he is additionally one of the few who have been published on meteorite law. Did you know there are over 5000 meteors headed for earth?! I certainly did not! His startling presentation noted the potential consequences if meteors are not studied as extensively as they should be. Although this interesting piece of international law was indeed novel, my ear was certainly captured by the second legal speaker to take the stage.
Natalie DeFreitas is a counsellor and self proclaimed alternative justice advocate. “Imagine the worst thing you’ve ever done is put on display for the world to see…People are worth more than the worst thing they’ve ever done.” Having spent years volunteering and working closely with individuals and groups who have been incarcerated, DeFreitas indicates that the current system isn’t working. She spoke on need to reform Canada’s prison system and shift focus on to restorative justice rather than incarceration, punishment and stigma. “Being tough on crime, promotes crime,” she indicated while illustrating the high rates of ricidivism once a person is released from prison. Demonstrating insights beyond her years, DeFreitas concluded, “Justice isn’t something that happens to you, it’s something that is built.” Her ideal is developing a system that focuses on offenders taking accountability, taking action to create positive change, and redefining their self identity.
All in all, the TED was an all around success and I left with several nuggets of inspiration. To learn more about TEDxVancouver 2012 visit http://tedxvancouver.com/ where the overall agenda from the day can be seen.
Defending Human Rights: Presentation by Helen Mack Chang
“What we want is justice as proof that governmental arbitrariness will not continue; justice as a condition for the development of democratic relations free of fear and coercion.” – Helen Mack Chang
SFU’s 2012 David Hopper Lecture was an incredible presentation by Helen Mack Chang. Ms. Chang is a Guatemalan business woman whose life forever changed the day her sister, Myrna Mack, was assassinated.
Chang spoke eloquently and passionately describing her plight and struggle to prove her sister’s death was a political crime. She told of her 12 year long journey, navigating the legal system, fighting against her government to seek justice. Her advocacy work fighting for human rights and against impunity continues to this day. Chang helps others seek justice, conquer impunity and work within the legal system in Guatemala to bring about change. She has helped dozens of similar cases be brought to justice. Because of her contribution and tireless effort she is the decorated recipient of many international human rights awards and has received noteworthy recognition.
Not only was this lecture a lesson in the current political climate and judicial system in Guatemala, but it was also an inspirational example of one woman’s courage and commitment to justice, in the face of monstrous obstacles.