Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) citizen Bridget Bowman loves going into work every single day as she is doing the kind of work she enjoys at the Human Rights Legal Support Centre (HRLSC) as a Human Rights Representative (HRR) – Aboriginal Designation. The MNO played a crucial role in helping Bridget get this dream job.
Bridget first heard about the services offered by the MNO while attending the Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning. “While studying at Humber in Toronto…I contacted the MNO and explained to them that I wanted to work within the Aboriginal community, and give back to my community at the same time,” said Bridget. The MNO referred Bridget to Nokee Kwe—a South London Employment and Education Centre, who was able to hire her as employee with financial assistance provided from the MNO’s Employment and Training programs.
Later in 2013, Bridget received her diploma in Paralegal Studies – Honours Distinction and successfully passed her P1 licensing exam with the Law Society of Upper Canada and became a licenced Paralegal. As part of the Paralegal Studies program, students are required to complete co-operative education (co-op) placements. One of her professors at the time referred Bridget to Justice for Children and Youth (JFCY), where she was hired on as co-op student.
Once her co-op term came to an end, Bridget presented JFCY with the proposition to extend her contract as the MNO was once again able to provide financial assistance from one of the MNO’s Employment and Training programs. JFCY jumped at the opportunity and was able to keep her on for the duration of the funding—one year.
“The legal community is very competitive and finding a position at all, let alone one that is paid, can be very tricky,” said Bridget. “I felt that I had a benefit to be able to offer my employment at no charge to the employer, while being able to make meaningful connections (which led to my current career) in the legal community and gain valuable experience to add to my resume.”
It was through her time working with JFCY that Bridget began volunteering as a community volunteer with the Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto. “While volunteering, I met a staff lawyer in the Indigenous Services program offered through the HRLSC; she suggested that I apply for a position that was available at the HRLSC and the rest is history,” said Bridget.
At HRLSC, Bridget is part of an Indigenous Services team created to support human rights claims from Indigenous people in Ontario. Métis and other self-identified Indigenous persons facing discrimination can contact the HRLSC and ask to speak with an Indigenous staff member who will listen to their situation.
“We understand the reasons for the general reluctance amongst Indigenous communities to access the human rights process,” said Bridget. “The Indigenous Services team at HRLSC is hoping to change that through providing direct access to our expertise and advice.”
Bridget continues: “As a Métis person living in 2016, I understand the struggle for identity and peoplehood. It gives me great pride to be able to provide services in my role as a Human Rights Representative at HRLSC. I understand how difficult it can be to raise concerns about potential human rights violations.
“I would like to thank the MNO for supporting me in reaching my goals—for this I am forever grateful [to] ]the HRLSC for taking me on, and Lori Mishibinijima [Indigenous Legal Counsel at HRLSC] for shining a light down this path for me,” said Bridget.
For more information on the MNO’s Employment and Training programs, please visit the Employment and Training Programs section on the MNO website.
Published on: August 24, 2016