Intersecting Inequities in Family Court: A trauma-informed critique
Canada’s family courts are confronted with cases involving complex cultural contexts and challenging family dynamics. The family justice system often enters the realm of resolving Canada's multicultural puzzle and is tasked with making decisions regarding complex overlapping issues and facts within a legislative framework. Family courts apply a rights-based model which involves adjudication between competing rights resolved by a third-party decision-maker. However, the court may lack an intersecting analysis of various forms of oppression and thereby many judges and lawyers do not assume a trauma informed as well as holistic approach. Myths and stereotypes dominate family court discussions, particularly when it comes to issues of credibility in cases involving allegations of family violence. Legislative reform is not enough, effective interpretation and implementation of legal provisions is necessary to treat survivors with dignity in the family justice system. This webinar will examine the relationship between the competing interests within the family court system as there continues to be the need for systemic change of the family dispute resolution system that designs justice for sustainable family conflict resolution.
Archana Medhekar, Archana Medhekar Law Professional Corporation
Archana Medhekar is a Certified Family Law specialist, and accredited Family Mediator, practicing in Toronto, Canada and brings over 20 years of international experience in family dispute resolution.
Archana is a Panel Lawyer for the Office of the Children’s Lawyer and has worked on issues of Gender Based Violence, child abuse and child protection by primarily representing vulnerable population including immigrants, refugees, women and children in high conflict family matters who face barriers to access to justice and within the justice system as well. She believes that culturally appropriate services are crucial for families navigating in any dispute resolution process and diversity and inclusion is key to advancing peace.
Archana is a co-author of the book “Domestic Violence in Immigrant Communities: Case Studies”. She is currently involved as a co-researcher project on “Impacts of experiencing or witnessing domestic violence in childhood: Perspectives of racialized immigrant youth”.
Archana is the member of the leadership team of the United Nations (UN) working group of an international NGO Mediator’s Beyond Borders International. She serves as a Board Member with the Association of Family & Conciliation Courts – Ontario.
Archana's awards and distinctions include "The Volunteer Service Award" from Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration, "The Champion for Social Justice Award" presented by Indus Community Services of Peel and recognition as "Trailblazer in Social Justice" by SALCO.
Archana lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband, their son and their family puppy Ellie.
Kamaljit Kaur Lehal, Lehal Law
- Kamaljit Kaur Lehal received her law degree in 1989 from the University of British Columbia and was called to the bar in 1990. She opened her own law firm in 1992, Lehal Law Corporation, and continues to operate a successful practice with a focus on immigration law.
- Ms. Lehal is both a certified civil and family mediator. She is a Qualified Arbitrator.
- Ms. Lehal was an appointed member of the Civil Resolution Tribunal in BC from 2015 to March 2019. She was an appointed member of the BC Review Board from 1998 to 2010 serving in the capacity of Alternate Chair.
She is the Chair on the board of directors of Options Community Services Society, a non-profit organization.
Aside from her work and volunteer roles she is balancing life with her husband raising their four children.
Jael Duarte, LA Henry Law
Jael Duarte is a lawyer working in Family, and Immigration and Refugee Law in New Brunswick. She is a graduate of Common and Civil Law at the University of Ottawa. She holds a Master’s Degree in Development Studies from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, and worked as a lawyer focused in Human Rights in Colombia for seven years. She is fluent in Spanish, French, and English, has lived in France as a Live-in Caregiver and in Switzerland as an international student. Throughout her professional career, Jael worked in human rights, gender, and social justice issues. She is very active in the immigrant community in the province.