National Volunteer Week 2022: Highlighting Robertson Stromberg’s Community Partnerships

From April 24 to 30, Canadians celebrate National Volunteer Week (NVW2022). This year’s theme is Volunteering is Empathy in Action and honours the dedicated volunteers that bring heart to Canada’s communities.

At Robertson Stromberg LLP, we are very proud of our community involvement and our active participation as volunteers with local non-profit organizations. We have deep roots in our community, and we are proud to call the city of Saskatoon home.

Robertson Stromberg’s community partnerships have three central components – volunteer Board memberships, sponsorships and donations, and community involvement.

Board Memberships

Non-profit organizations are essential for building an engaged and collaborative community. Our lawyers serve on Boards as a way to support our community and to build capacity within organizations that often have limited resources.

As Board members, Robertson Stromberg lawyers volunteer their time – and provide governance expertise and oversight – to some of our community’s most active non-profit organizations and charities.

Our Board memberships include Big Brothers Big Sisters of Saskatoon and Area, CHEP Good Food, Dress for Success Saskatoon, the Law Foundation of Saskatchewan, OUTSaskatoon, READ Saskatoon, Remai Modern art gallery and Station 20 West community centre. These organizations address issues ranging from food security in the city’s core neighbourhoods to inclusiveness and economic empowerment.

As Board members, Robertson Stromberg lawyers volunteer their time – and provide governance expertise and oversight – to some of our community’s most active non-profit organizations and charities.

Sponsorships and Donations

Robertson Stromberg recognizes that the backbone of any charitable organization is its volunteers. That’s why we commit our sponsorship dollars to assist non-profit organizations in building capacity to support those individuals who give their time to make our community great.

Some examples of organizations we support through sponsorships and donations are the Okihtcitawak Patrol Group (OPG), the Sum Theatre and the Secret Santa Foundation. The OPG is an Indigenous created and led community-based patrol group that services Saskatoon’s core neighbourhoods. As an independent theatre company, Sum Theatre’s mission is to build community by creating inclusive experiences. The Secret Santa Foundation’s mandate is to provide a complete Christmas to 600 less fortunate Saskatoon families with children under 12.

Community Involvement

As a community-minded full-service law firm, Robertson Stromberg lawyers provide pro bono legal services to individuals and organizations across the province. Through the Public Legal Education Association of Saskatchewan (PLEA), our lawyers offer legal advice clinics at the Saskatoon Public Library. We also participate with Pro Bono Law Saskatchewan (PBLS) to provide free legal services to low-income provincial residents.

Our community involvement isn’t limited only to legal services. RS Partner Misty Alexandre volunteers as head coach of both the Comet Lazers U9B Hockey Team and the Comet Blasters U7 Hockey Team. Partner Kirsten Hnatuk volunteers as a literacy coach with READ Saskatoon’s literacy program. And, partner Kim Anderson, Q.C., is a member of the Appeals Board for Saskatoon Youth Soccer.

Let’s celebrate Canada’s volunteers together. #NVW2022 #EmpathyInAction #VolunteersBringHeart

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Family Violence in Family Law

When asked to make a parenting order, courts will consider family violence as a factor relating to the child’s circumstances and, ultimately, their best interests. But what if the evidence is controverted?

One consideration is credibility. In assessing the appropriate parenting arrangements for a child, credibility of the witnesses is measured. The Nova Scotia Family Court, in H.L. v Z.L., 2018 NSFC 5, helpfully sets out the following factors to consider when making credibility determinations:

  1. What were the inconsistencies and weaknesses in the witness’ evidence, which include internal inconsistencies, prior inconsistent statements, inconsistencies between the witness’ testimony, and the documentary evidence, and the testimony of other witnesses: Re: Novak Estate2008 NSSC 283 (S.C.);
  2. Did the witness have an interest in the outcome or was he/she personally connected to either party;
  3. Did the witness have a motive to deceive;
  4. Did the witness have the ability to observe the factual matters about which he/she testified;
  5. Did the witness have a sufficient power of recollection to provide the court with an accurate account;
  6. Is the testimony in harmony with the preponderance of probabilities which a practical and informed person would find reasonable given the particular place and conditions: Faryna v. Chorney 1951 CanLII 252 (BC CA), [1952] 2 D.L.R. 354;
  7. Was there an internal consistency and logical flow to the evidence;
  8. Was the evidence provided in a candid and straight forward manner, or was the witness evasive, strategic, hesitant, or biased; and
  9. Where appropriate, was the witness capable of making an admission against interest, or was the witness self-serving?

While the above factors are an excellent guide to assessing credibility, the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s bench has acknowledged that, at the end of the day, the focus is on the best interests of the child. The question is how to safely structure parenting in view of the allegations of family violence, as opposed to whether certain, or any, events did or did not occur. Refer to Juraville v Armstrong, 2021 SKQB 73.

So, while there may be conflicting evidence between parties, particularly as it relates to family violence, it remains possible to fashion a parenting plan for the child that will compliment their best interests and safeguard their mental, emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing.

Contacting a Lawyer on this Subject

The above is for general information only, and not legal advice. Parties should always seek legal advice prior to taking action in specific situations. Contact Kelsey Dixon at 1-306-933-1359 or [email protected] to learn more.

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