Joe Arvay Initiative for Public Interest Law

The Law Foundation of BC is proud to announce the creation of the Joe Arvay Initiative for Public Interest Law, which aims at improving people’s lives through the law and enhancing access to justice in British Columbia.

Joseph Arvay, O.C., O.B.C., Q.C. was one of Canada’s foremost human rights, constitutional and public interest lawyers. Over his decades-long career, Joe never flinched in his work to use the law to build a more just Canada, advancing access to justice for those whose voices might not otherwise be heard, and mentoring and supporting many other public interest advocates in their work.

From fighting for the rights of the LGBTQ community in the early 90s in the path breaking case that recognized, for the first time, that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protected Canadians from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation; to ensuring that kindergarten teachers are able to recognize same-sex parent families in their classrooms; to protecting the health and lives of people living with addictions to illicit substances by defending safe injection sites; to fighting to achieve recognition of a right to medical aid in dying for patients who are suffering intolerably; to his numerous cases advancing the rights of Indigenous peoples; to his victory in striking down indefinite solitary confinement as a violation of fundamental human rights; Joe’s work has changed the face of the law and made people’s lives better.

In the spirit of Joe’s lifetime of work advancing access to justice, the Joe Arvay Initiative for Public Interest Law has been created through a generous $500,000 gift from the ILLAHIE Foundation, the family foundation of dedicated supporters of public interest law and access to justice initiatives, Julia and Ed Levy.

The purpose of the Joe Arvay Initiative for Public Interest Law is to provide support for a more sustainable pathway into public interest legal practice; to provide financial assistance to support to public interest law work; and to support access to justice innovation. The effort will build on Joe’s legacy of using the law to improve people’s lives.

The effects of the pandemic have underlined the necessity of removing barriers for disadvantaged people and improving access to justice. The Law Foundation has launched this initiative and the Levys have made the initial contribution, in the hope that others will step up to help address this urgent need because there has never been a time more critical than now to support those who are vulnerable in accessing justice. We would like to see the fund grow to $2 million in the next year.

If you would like to join this initiative to build upon the legacy of Joe Arvay, you can make a donation here (please click the box “in memory of” and indicate Joe Arvay). For information on this important initiative, and how to contribute, please contact Josh Paterson, Executive Director of the Law Foundation of BC. Donations will receive a charitable receipt and are made to the the Law Foundation of BC’s donor-advised fund at the Vancouver Foundation.