As you have already heard, the FDRIO conference is on November 16, 2020 and Moya Teklu is our keynote speaker this year, she will be discussing “Addressing Anti-Black Racism.” We have heard a lot about what she has done for the Judges, Justices of the Peace, Lawyers, Adjudicators and regulators across the province and country – over the past several weeks.  I was luckily able to get some of Moya`s time to get to know her a bit more.

1.   We understand that you have experience and expertise in delivering anti-oppression and anti-racism training to members of the justice system. Can you tell us a bit about how this became a career path for you?

It happened — and is happening — quite organically.

My work developing and delivering anti-oppression training began when I worked as a Policy Research Lawyer at the African Canadian Legal Clinic, Now known as BLAC  and later, when I worked as a Human Rights and Healthy Equity Specialist at Mount Sinai Hospital. Both of these roles involved developing and delivering training on issues related to human rights. 

Over the past six years, entirely through word-of-mouth, I’ve been asked to deliver and develop training on the ways in which racism, discrimination, and oppression show up in decision-making processes in the broader justice sector. I’ve delivered training sessions to hundreds (maybe thousands) of judges, justices of the peace, lawyers and regulators.

2.    What was your career before?

Funny enough, I don’t actually view training and teaching as a career. They’re both things that I do and enjoy, and about which I’m passionate. But my actual “career” or my “day job”, is being a lawyer. Until recently, my work has been focussed almost exclusively on policy research but I’ve recently taken the very exciting leap into litigation.  

3.    What are a few things you would like to share with us that you find challenging in your work?

Not to get too hyperbolic about it, but I view this work as life and death. Lawyers, judges, adjudicators and other justice system actors wield a lot of power. Even seemingly insignificant decisions that we make may seriously impact peoples’ lives.  We all have a role to play in either maintaining the status quo, or changing our policies, practices, laws etc. to address their negative impact on Indigenous, Black, and other marginalized communities.

It’s challenging to impart the gravity of anti-oppression and anti-racism to people who may not have considered these issues, while trying to make sure they are not overwhelmed, but also making clear that the training session is not some sort of panacea. Addressing these issues and dismantling these systems is going to require a sustained, concerted effort. The training is just the beginning — it is intended to raise awareness of the problems, identify tools and trouble spots, and inspire individuals to take up the work on a go-forward basis.

I’m never really sure if the information has landed — if those participating in these training sessions incorporate the learning into their work, or if it makes a real difference in the lives of the members of marginalized communities who appear before them, or are represented by them.

4.    What is something that you’re proud of?

I feel very lucky to be able to do work that is so important to me.I helped to create the Black Legal Action Centre (BLAC), and although I am no longer directly involved, I continue to be proud of the work that organization is doing to combat anti-Black racism. I’m also proud of the training I provide and believe that it will lead to better decision making and more equitable justice outcomes. 

Finally, I drafted Legal Aid Ontario’s Racialized Communities Strategy and I am proud that LAO is working to achieve its objectives. I believe that the Strategy will lead to better justice outcomes for members of racialized communities, and I am proud of the role that I have played in that.

5.    Is there anything else you would like to share with me?

I’m excited to be able to work with the Family Dispute Resolution Institute of Ontario and I hope that participants will let me know the ways in which they incorporate the learning from the presentation into their work. 

Thank you very much Moya for letting us get to know a little bit more about you, we appreciate your time with us and all of your efforts in providing valuable training on Anti –Black Racism, Unconscious Bias, Access to Justice and Cultural Competence throughout the province. We look forward to hearing you speak on November 16th 2020. Please Join us by purchasing tickets if you haven’t already. 

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