Children and youth rights advocate Birdsell to receive 2018 Guthrie Award

October 3, 2018
Article Source
The Lawyer's Daily

The Law Foundation of Ontario announced that the 2018 Guthrie Award recipient is Mary Birdsell. The Guthrie Award is the foundation’s signature award to recognize exceptional access to justice champions.

Birdsell is the executive director of Justice for Children and Youth (JFCY), a legal aid clinic dedicated to protecting and advancing the legal rights and dignity of children and youth.

"Mary epitomizes the passionate and dynamic leader of a specialty legal clinic," said Linda Rothstein, the foundation's board chair. "She has taken the mandate of justice for children and youth and fashioned services that respond directly to needs identified by youth and delivers them in the ways and places that are most appropriate, whether that’s a direct phone line, at youth groups, or literally on the streets."

Birdsell has devoted her career to providing legal services, justice advocacy, community development and research and education on behalf of the most vulnerable children and youth.  

"[Mary] has distinguished herself from the beginning through creative endeavours that expanded the work of the legal clinic and provided legal advocacy for more and more disadvantaged youth,” said Cheryl Milne, executive director of the David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights at the University of Toronto, who nominated Birdsell for the Guthrie Award. "I have long admired the compassionate approach that Mary has taken to legal practice and her young clients. Her work with everyone, including colleagues, has been marked by kindness and caring — qualities … that humanize and facilitate interactions that bring justice for vulnerable individuals. She is the best of what the legal profession has to offer, particularly for young clients facing difficult life circumstances."

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