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Fareeha Qaiser, Partner

Miller Thomson LLP

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your career path.


I grew up in Pakistan before immigrating to Canada at the age of eight. I completed my Bachelor of Arts (double major in psychology and political science) at UBC prior to attending UVic Faculty of Law. I am a partner at Miller Thomson LLP and practice in the areas of insurance defense litigation, personal injury, professional negligence, construction liabilities, property and casualty claims, occupier’s liability, and subrogated claims.


2. Why Law?

I chose law because lawyers are in a unique position of being able to help individuals, groups, and organizations with their legal problems. Becoming a lawyer means learning to negotiate and learning how to manage people. It is intellectually challenging, from analyzing the facts of your clients, analyzing prior written decisions of the past as guides for current decisions, applying the law to those facts, devising trial strategy, and to devising innovative solutions to novel legal issues. Every case is a new puzzle to solve and there is never a dull moment.


In Pakistan, many women are educated but do not (or cannot) pursue a career outside the home. Further, there are even less women that pursue a legal profession. These were challenges that I was unaware of while growing up in Pakistan. However, in Canada, I was cognizant of having the privilege of being able to pursue any career I set my mind to, even law, without facing the same barriers that women face in Pakistan.


3. How has being a Canadian Muslim (woman) shaped your journey, what challenges have you had to overcome along the way?


Prior to entering law school, I recall being told that law as a profession was not for women and especially not for Muslim women. I was told that there would be challenges that were insurmountable, including being able to dress conservatively, maintaining Muslim values, having a work-life balance, and having a family life. Those conversations, especially from other Muslim women, were disheartening but reinforced my decision to pursue law and to challenge those stereotypes. Along the way there were the usual challenges of not being successful in obtaining articles at a “Big Firm” and imposter syndrome. There is no question that these were and are real challenges; however, with great determination, persistence, hard work, and amazing mentors and supporters along the way, those challenges were overcome.


4. What advice would you give to other Muslim lawyers?


It is a cliché but be true to yourself and your values. Do not change who you are to fit into a firm or its culture. You will gain the respect of your peers by being authentic and bringing your values to the firm’s table.


5. Who inspires you?


My mother. A quote that resonates with me is that “successful mothers are not the ones that never struggled, they are the ones that never give up, despite the struggles.” My mother was a single parent who, like many other immigrants, immigrated to Canada to give her children a better life. In the process, she gave up her career as a history professor and focused her energies on raising us. Watching her overcome her struggles navigating a foreign country where English was not her native tongue and seeing her amazing strength, ambition, and resilience in the face of all the challenges inspired and continues to inspire me each and every day.


6. If you could eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?


Pasta! There are approximately 600 shapes of pasta and they can be cooked and eaten in a variety of ways - so you will never tire of it so long as you live. My aspiration is to one day travel to Italy to try to experience pasta in its authentic form.


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The Canadian Muslim Lawyers Association (CMLA) and The Muslim Legal Support Centre (MLSC) stand in solidarity with all Indigenous Peoples. On this day we encourage all Muslims to take advantage of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and learn about the history, background and healing process attached to the day honouring Indigenous communities in Canada.


September 30, 2021, marks the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, which was formerly known as Orange Shirt Day and was established in 2013. It is a day to raise awareness about the damaging effects of the residential school system on Indigenous communities. It is also a day to honour the children who were forced into residential schools and to learn about the legacy of the residential school system that carries into the present day. This year, September 30th has also been recognized by the federal government as the annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Learn more about the origins of Orange Shirt Day

 

Steps can we take to honour this day: 

  • Take the time to learn about Indigenous history and the First Nations whose land you live on 

  • Take the time to learn more about the history of residential schools and their impact on Indigenous children

  • Read the 94 calls to action and the summary of the Truth and Reconciliation Report and recognize your role in the work that needs to be done for a better future 

  • Listen to Indigenous leaders and community members and make space for their voices 

  • Support authentic Indigenous businesses, artists, creators and community leaders

  • Use the list of resources below to educate yourself further and get involved in the community 

Today we call on all lawyers and community members to take this day to reflect, stand up and speak out on the tragic history of Canada’s residential school system and to commemorate the survivors, their families & communities.


RESOURCES:

  1. Go to native-land.ca to find out whose land you live on and add this to your territory acknowledgement.

  2. Summary of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada http://caid.ca/TRCFinExeSum2015.pdf

  3. Consider donating to the Residential School Survivors Society: irsss.ca

  4. Take a tour of a residential school https://woodlandculturalcentre.ca/mohawk-institute-residential-school-virtual-tour-now-available-online/

  5. Listen: https://thetraumainformedlawyer.simplecast.com/episodes/ahkameyimok-one-story-about-never-giving-up-trc-day-bonus-episode

  6. Amnesty International. "Reconciliation Means Not Having to Say Sorry a Second Time: Conversation with CINDY Blackstock, First NATIONS Child and FAMILY Caring Society." Amnesty International Canada, 7 May 2021.

  7. Hayden Taylor, Drew, and Shiri Pasternak. "#LandBack: What Does It Mean & How Do You Enact It?" Yellowhead Institute, "X" University, Apr. 2021.

  8. Hayden-Taylor, Drew, and Shiri Pasternak. "Cash Back: A Yellowhead Institute Red Paper." Yellowhead Institute, "X" University, May 2021.

  9. Joseph, Bob. "21 Things You May Not Have Known about The Indian Act." Indigenous Corporate Training Inc., 2 June 2015.

  10. McFarlane, Peter, and Nicole Schabus. "Whose Land Is It Anyway? A Manual for Decolonization." Federation of Post Secondary Educators of BC, 2017.

  11. National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. "TRC Website." National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, University of Manitoba, 2021.

  12. University of Toronto TRC Steering Committee Final Report. "Wecheehetowin: Answering the Call." Division of the Vice President and Provost, University of Toronto, 2017.

  13. Canada. "Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples." Library and Archives Canada, 1991.


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The Muslim Legal Support Centre (MLSC) was initiated by the Canadian Muslim Lawyers Association (CMLA) in 2018 in recognition of the lack of culturally competent legal services accessible to the Muslim community.


MLSC is currently looking for a part-time Communication Coordinator to assist the Centre with it’s communication functions. The ideal Coordinator would have advanced communication skills and a good understanding of Muslim communities and the challenges and needs of Muslim clients.


The Communication Coordinator should have strong written and verbal communication skills and be proficient in using social media and online platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Canva, and Wix.

Terms of employment

This is a 6 month contract for a part-time position of 15 hours per week at $20.00 per hour. The Communication Coordinator is expected to work from home within a remote/virtual setting until further notice. MLSC promotes flexible working hours as part of the organizational growth, by encouraging work-life balance, and higher job satisfaction. However, the scheduling of staff hours will be subject to negotiation with the Director and any extension of employment beyond 6 months is subject to funding.

Duties/responsibilities for the Coordinator:

Communication

  • Create promotional materials, and web-content and respond to social media/other inquiries in a timely manner

  • Support clinic communication functions by contributing to communication needs and solutions

  • Copy edit communication materials and respond to stakeholder concerns in conjunction with the Clinic Director

  • Tweak or improve communication tools to support the MLSC

  • Create templates to facilitate clinic communication

  • Participate in MLSC team activities and perform duties as assigned

Public Legal Education (PLE)

  • Support the organizing and promotion of clinic and PLE events for MLSC in a culturally competent fashion

  • Develop relationship with PLE resources, help create information resource/educational tools and promote events through strategic outlets

  • Coordinate with strategic MLSC stakeholders to coordinate PLE/information sessions

Other

Perform duties as assigned.

Qualifications/Experience:

  • Experience in creating communication materials and experienced in social media and other online platforms

  • Experience in legal service setting or non-profit environment

  • Knowledge of the needs and legal issues faced by Muslims in Ontario

  • A commitment to social justice

  • Committed to a culturally competent service delivery approach

  • Demonstrated capacity to use online video conferencing and cloud software

  • Good time management and organizational skills

  • Team player with interpersonal skills

  • Flexible, accommodating and detail-oriented

  • Intake experience considered an asset

All interested candidates are requested to contact the MLSC with an expression of interest, three professional references and a resume in one document - not more than 4 pages (word or pdf) to mlsc.coordination@gmail.com by Friday, October 15, 2021. Please indicate ‘Communication Coordinator’ in the subject line when the job application is submitted.

We thank all applicants for their interest however only those selected for an interview will be contacted.

MLSC welcomes applications from diverse individuals who self-identify on the basis of any of the protected grounds under the Human Rights Code. Lived experience and intersectional identities are merit factors for hiring for this position.

We are committed to full compliance with the Human Rights Code, the Accessibility For Ontarians With Disabilities Act, the Occupational Health and Safety Act, and all other applicable legislation. We will provide accommodation during the hiring process upon request. Information received relating to accommodation measures will be addressed confidentially.


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