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What the World Needs Now is More Pro Bono

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5 minute read

July 14, 2020

What the World Needs Now is More Pro Bono

Lawyers and the legal community use their performance skills to bring awareness and raise funds to support access to justice for our vulnerable population during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Alberta Civil Trial Lawyers Association (ACTLA) is staging a virtual Public Awareness Campaign partnered with United Way.  Major supporters include the Canadian Bar Association – Alberta Branch and the Legal Archives Society of Alberta.  The show is called Laywers Vs Talent: A2J – Virtual Edition. Here’s a link to the lineup.  You can watch by simply making a donation.  The United Way is helping out so it’s a very secure and safe procedure.  Click here to get your exclusive link.  (You will receive an email with the link prior to showtime.)

COVID-19 caused cancellation of fundraising events (e.g. Battle of the Bar Bands-Calgary) within the profession where proceeds went to Pro Bono legal advice clinics.  The Alberta Bar decided to innovate and create the virtual event for this Thursday, July 16th, from 6:00 PM to 8 PM (MDT) to raise a “behind the scenes” Awareness.  Due to the Pandemic, Pro Bono clinics require technology for remote meetings or remote court attendance or require supplies for their clients such as masks and shields to attend meetings or attend court if people are forced by subpoena or otherwise need to attend.

Donna Purcell, member of the ACTLA COVID-19 Emergency Response Team said “We were going to call our event ‘lawyers got talent’ but one lawyer objected saying Simon Cowell would complain.  Well what about ‘lawyers got no talent’? No, he might still complain, maybe try Lawyers vs Talent” and the seed was sown to invite professional talent, with entertainers from the United States, Mexico, Europe, Asia and South America under the Global A2J Alliance banner.  The campaign is meant to highlight the need for everyone to protect the Rule of Law for vulnerable populations.

Forecasts for Alberta include 25% unemployment.  The profession is concerned about providing Pro Bono services given the anticipated domestic situations, personal bankruptcies, foreclosures and evictions flooding antiquated justice systems.

“The legal profession and our judiciary have decided to lead the way in ensuring innovative access to justice for our growing vulnerable populations and all Albertans”, notes Purcell, “And we can’t only work for free, that is called being unemployed.  And no lawyer jokes please, we might not get them.  Grab a Shaq-a-roni, set up a Zoom after party, and come enjoy the entertainment, including some pros who know what they are doing and learn from our feature presenters and feature reporting.”

The show has many serious moments as well. You will hear from Rumana Monzur, Counsel at Department of Justice, Canada. In June 2011, she was brutally attacked and blinded by her husband at the time, Hasan Sayeed Sumon, while visiting in her home country of Bangladesh. As well, you will meet Maria Mitousis, Principal, Mitousis, Lemieux, Howard Law Corporation. Maria became national news when in the summer of 2015, she dropped into her office and opened a package that was on her desk.  In the package was a bomb, and in the ensuing explosion, Maria lost a hand. Hers is a tragic but inspiring story.

A committee will decide where funds that are raised will have the most impact and includes consulting the United Way’s The Social Impact Lab, a platform to research, create, and test new services and business models. The goal is toensure the impact on organizations who support vulnerable populations through the legal sector is maximized.  It is also hoped that public awareness of the out-of-date state of the justice system will encourage a provincial and national discussion.

A minimum $50 donation to United Way receives the Premiere Access link; donate any amount for an after the event link.

For more information and to donate, sponsor or to purchase tickets to the event, visit www.lawyersvstalent.com

Remember, the show goes live Thursday, July 16th, at 6 PM

Disclosure:  Todayville is a proud partner in the production of this innovative program. 

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Alberta

Positive COVID-19 tests at world men's curling championship deemed “false positives”

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CALGARY — The four positive COVID-19 tests that interrupted the men’s world curling championship are considered “false positives” from potentially contaminated samples, according to the World Curling Federation.

The men’s championship concluded late Sunday night with Sweden’s Niklas Edin winning a record fifth world men’s title.

No games were played Saturday because four participants, including one from a playoff team, tested positive for the virus in “exit” tests before leaving Calgary’s curling bubble. 

None had symptoms of the illness.

All have tested negative in multiple re-tests since then, the WCF said Monday in a statement. All tests were conducted via PCR throat swabs.

“According to Alberta Health, PCR testing remains the gold standard for COVID-19 testing,” the WCF said. “Very rarely, there are occurrences through sampling or testing processes when samples may become contaminated and a false positive may result.

“Following an investigation over the weekend, it appears that this may have occurred in this case and follow-up testing was undertaken.”

All athletes and personnel considered close contacts of the four underwent testing Saturday with all results negative. 

Every playoff team member was tested before and after each game Sunday with those results also negative, the WCF said. Hotel staff were also tested Sunday and cleared.

“With the original four positive test results now deemed as false positives, the integrity of the Calgary bubble remains intact,” the WCF declared.

“The change also allows international athletes who were considered close contacts, and who would have had to remain in isolation in Calgary for 14 days, will now be able to depart Calgary.”

The fifth of seven events in Calgary’s curling hub, the Humpty’s Champions Cup, gets underway Thursday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 12, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Pulling the plug: Edmonton Folk Music Festival cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic

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EDMONTON — Despite Alberta Premier Jason Kenney’s hope that the COVID-19 vaccine will allow summer events like the Calgary Stampede to go ahead, the Edmonton Folk Music Festival has been cancelled

The festival says in a statement that without full vaccination, people won’t be entirely safe from the spread of COVID-19. 

It says that with virus variants and an uncertain vaccine rollout, the impossibility of social distancing at the outdoor festival could lead to community spread.

Kenney has said that two-thirds of the population should have a vaccine shot by the end of June and things should begin to feel back-to-normal.

He says the Stampede, which is held in early July, along with sporting events and other festivals will be possible.

The Edmonton Folk Music Festival says it will continue to offer online content and, if small gatherings are permitted, it hopes to add some community engagement.

“With so many variables at play, the complexity of planning and delivering a festival of our size makes it impossible to move forward in our usual manner,” the statement said Monday.

“As profoundly disappointing as this news is, we believe this is the only safe way forward. The safety of our patrons, volunteers, and artists was of paramount importance in coming to this conclusion.”

The annual four-day festival in the city’s Gallagher Park usually attracts thousands of music fans and boasts approximately 2,700 volunteers.

Alberta introduced new health rules last week, closing restaurants to in-person dining and further reducing customer capacity at retail stores in response to rising COVID-19 numbers.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 12, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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