Two months ago I was listening to a radio show called Mediation Station. On the show I heard a woman share her lived experience of self-representing in the Ontario family court system, which she has been doing for about 8years. This woman is Victoria and like many others Victoria is not eligible for legal aid; however, is unable to afforded a lawyer. This is particularly distressing given, as I have come to learn, there is nothing final in the family court system. As such Victoria has to return court several times a year to deal with the various adjustments and/or claims made in her case.
Victoria allowed me to come to court with her, to witness how she navigates the system. Her strength and clarity of purpose is an astonishing combination of chess master and jiu jitsu sensei. She is focused and intentional in her actions as she is prepared for the long road. She is a woman defending her family!
There are a great many things I find inspiring about Victoria. One that resonated deeply with me was her decision to accept the hard truth that she would have to deal with the ongoing crisis of the court system for a long time. Victoria realized that hoping for some “final” resolution that would put an end to this nightmare was not going to happen. Realizing this she turned and faced an overwhelm situation and decided that she could do this.
I am not in the family court system, nonetheless I’m inspired by Victoria’s conviction. I am not as strong as Victoria and know there are many people out there who are struggling in The System and feel alone. So for them—for us—I wanted others to hear Victoria.
So I approached Victoria and suggested we make a series of videos about her experience. I asked her if she would be open to sharing her experiences, talking about what she has learned as a person self-representing in court, provide tips and recommendations, guidance for someone who is dealing with the emotional weight of this ordeal, and Victoria said “Yes.”
Over the coming weeks I will release more of these videos, taken from an interview we did a few weeks ago. If you know someone who might benefit from hearing Victoria please share. The series is simply titled “You are not alone.” And for me this is the message.