Pivot Legal Society - Equality Lifts Everyone


Interns double our capacity this summer

Every year I take on introducing our newest crop of summer interns to the greater Pivot community and every year I start off by saying that it looks like we have the best summer interns ever. At the risk of repeating myself, it appears that we have the best summer interns ever!

Something feels different this year. Maybe is the fact that we had over 100 applicants from all across North America (up from 60 last year); or maybe it is that we are welcoming interns into our open concept office (that we love); or maybe it is the extracurricular garden and baking activities that each of the interns and some core volunteers (looking at you Max and Georges!) have taken on.

Whatever it is, this is going to be a good summer. Over the course of the summer, our 5 interns will add over 4500 hours to our social change campaigns! With this group of amazing interns – that will translate to extraordinary impact for Pivot.

But don’t take my word for it – here are what three of our new interns has to say about why they wanted to spend the summer at Pivot:

Kristina Mansveld is a forth year student at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick. She will spend her summer working with Carolyn Wong on the Hope in Shadows calendar.

Pivot is very unique and groundbreaking in the work that it does. I am really excited to learn and experience how the law can be used to pursue social justice. Hope in Shadows is such an effective and participatory way for people to express themselves and in doing so assert their dignity. I love being a part of that process.

Ryan Tonkin is a first year law student at Harvard University. Before attending Harvard Ryan completed an MA in Philosophy at the University of Victoria. He will spend his summer reviewing the Residential Tenancy Act and the state of low-income housing across British Columbia.

Pivot’s work is a vivid illustration of Justice as Fairness. Equality before the law is a bedrock principle of fairness. But Pivot goes beyond formal notions of equality in favor of a substantive commitment to dignity and compassion: a commitment only realized by a truly egalitarian society. The profound relationship Pivot shares with the surrounding community is immediately apparent, and this connection makes a summer at Pivot an inspiring introduction to legal practice.

Kristie Starr is a union organizer with over 15 years of experience - most recently with UNITE HERE. She has an MA in History from Yale University and will spend the summer working to build a coalition of support for Pivot’s Policing work.  

I hope my summer at Pivot will open up new opportunities for me to learn and to grow my contribution to the social justice movement in Vancouver.  I am excited to meet new people and to explore the issues that evolve out of the downtown eastside, the heart of Vancouver. I've spent my fair share of late nights at Pat's Pub; sunny afternoons cycling along Alexander Street; lazy days picnicking in Crab Park. I've called Vancouver my home for the last five years, but this summer with Pivot I will finally have the time to devote my skills and myself to the downtown eastside community and, hopefully, to learn something from that community in turn.

Fathima Cader just finished her last year at UBC Law. Before going into law, Fathima completed an MA in English at the University of Toronto. She is working with Scott Bernstein on Pivot's Health and Drug Policy campaign.

As a newly-minted law grad, one of the things I love about Pivot is how effectively, creatively, and accountably it undertakes its many social justice legal campaigns. I’m looking forward to learning how to be that simultaneously hard-hitting and grounded – which I don’t think would be possible if the Pivot team weren’t as supportive and positive as it is.

Leo Yu has worked in marketing at a non-profit for over 6 years. He has completed a BA in Psychology from Queen's University, and a diploma in Marketing Management from BCIT. He is currently working on a Certificate in Fundraising Management.

Pivot staff and volunteers have worked hard over the years to tackle big issues for the sake of a fair and compassionate society.  They have also given a voice to those in the Downtown Eastside community through campaigns like Hope in Shadows.  I'm thankful for the chance to make a small contribution this summer at Pivot by applying my experience in marketing.

Laila Rana just finished her second year in law at the University of Ottawa where she spent the past year working at the University of Ottawa’s Community Legal Clinic in the women’s division. She completed her BA from Simon Fraser University. She will be working with Darcie Bennett on projects relating to violence against women and with Katrina Pacey on the campaign for sex worker’s rights.

The high impact advocacy work that Pivot Legal Society does is undoubtedly important for the Downtown Eastside and the social justice community here. What makes Pivot the most exciting place to be as a law student is that the work is also grassroots, engaging, dynamic, innovative and interesting. 

(Ryan, Fathima, and Kristina are pictured here).