Mary Birdsell is a Canadian lawyer and is the executive director of Justice For Children and Youth, based in Toronto. The JFCY is a highly specialized organization focused on the legal rights of children and youth. Recently, Mary represented several young people in a constitutional challenge to Ontario’s Safe Streets Act. As a community development lawyer and staff lawyer at Justice for Children and Youth Mary has been responsible for the clinic’s public legal education for young people in schools, institutions and custodial settings. In 1999 Mary increased the clinic’s direct contact with street-involved youth through a new SYLS project (Street Youth Legal Services). She also provides training for staff and professionals in youth-serving agencies. Mary has been involved in many social justice groups such as the Youth Justice Education Partnership, the Committee for Better Policing, and the Conflict Resolution Educators Network. She is currently a board member of the Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children.
Mary is coming to U of T to speak about her engagement with youth social justice, including the debate about corporal punishment. Justice for Children and Youth has been involved in a Supreme Court challenge of corporal punishment, and Mary will talk about the JFCY/children’s rights view and the involved issues, such as social health. She will discuss an approach to legal reform and issues of legal process. She will also discuss the importance of legal clinics as a unique method for addressing systemic and social justice issues, with corporal punishment as an example of clinical legal practice. Whether you are interested in social justice, human rights, legal process and law reform, or practical applications of the law for social health, do not miss the chance to engage with an expert in her field.