Learning to Be a Better Advocate

By: 

Lukas Bhandar

I first heard of Together Against Poverty Society about a year ago, when I met Victor Ryan, the Public Interest Law student who worked here last summer. Through Victor I saw the despairing aftermath of the View Towers fire, and heard about the tenants who had been abandoned by both their landlord and their provincial government. In Victor, I saw the passion, dedication, and determination to advocate for people marginalized and silenced by society. I greatly admired Victor for those qualities, and he inspired me to apply for a job here this summer.

I started working at TAPS in May in the Income Assistance Advocacy Project. On my first day I was immediately thrust into the intense atmosphere that pervades this organization: that same day we helped submit a 44-page Ombudsperson complaint against the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation. I was blown away—almost intimidated—by the energy of my co-workers.

I had very little legal experience prior to TAPS. I had once taken notes for my lawyer uncle when he prosecuted in a Provincial Court case, and I had advocated for LGBT university students with the UVic Pride Collective. In the past three months I have gained a much better appreciation of the demands and challenges of legal advocacy. I have helped people apply for supplements, submit reconsiderations, and receive the information and assistance they are due from the Ministry. I feel extremely privileged to have worked with these extraordinary individuals, and every advocate I’ve worked with has exhibited the same energy and dedication that I first saw in Victor.

Here at TAPS we have a motto: “It is justice, not charity, that is wanting in the world.” Every day I am inspired to see my co-workers and clients show the true passion that it takes to seek out that justice.