By Aditi Iyer, University of Victoria, incoming 3L student

Despite all of the challenges that came with working remotely through the COVID-19 pandemic, I could not have imagined a better summer experience than my time with Justice for Children and Youth. Students are given countless opportunities for interesting and relevant work in a large variety of fields. The whole office is dedicated to maintaining a warm and supportive environment, and ensuring that you have a fulfilling summer experience.

My most significant takeaway was learning how to engage with the law through a practical, child-focused lens. Children and young people face unique barriers and vulnerabilities which are only exacerbated through the legal system. Children are often dismissed so their concerns go overlooked. In the legal system they tend to be seen as dependent on the adults around them – people who only want the best for their child, but may not always understand what their child wants.

This lack of autonomy is meant to come with some degree of sympathy and forgiveness for their mistakes. This ends up being less true for teenagers or for racialized children and youths. These children walk the world of being ‘old enough’ to be held accountable for their actions, but ‘too young’ to be deserving of an opinion or a voice.

All children are deserving of the same legal counsel as adults. In situations that affect them, they deserve to choose the outcome they want to pursue, free from judgement or dismissiveness. Justice for Children and Youth provides that service. The dedicated lawyers directly advise the young person, and seek direction from them. They empower children and young people with legal knowledge, and assist them in making informed and educated decisions.