Recently, Naomi Sayers had a chance to sit down for an interview with Samantha Peters, to highlight her work in the industry, her journey to the practice of law, community lawyering, and serving the Black community.
Tell us about your practice and your journey to law.
I work at the intersection of law, education and policy. Currently, I am the Director of Legal Initiatives and Public Interest at Black Femme Legal, a Law Foundation of Ontario funded project, which provides both legal and non-legal resources to Black 2SLGBTQ+ workers in Ontario. I am also the National Vice President of Equity and Anti-Oppression at the Canadian Association of Labour Lawyers, Black Legal Mentor-in-Residence at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law, a Pro Bono Lawyer where I provide free legal advice, brief services and referrals to women-identified survivors of domestic violence throughout Ontario via video conference consultations with a special focus on women in rural and remote communities, and a member of the City of Toronto’s LGBTQ2S+ Council Advisory Body where I provide advice to City staff and City Council on identified priority issues to support the elimination of barriers and inequities experienced by LGBTQ2S+ communities in accessing City of Toronto programs and services.
My journey to pursuing a career in law was and continues to be informed by my lived realities, the lived realities of my communities and my desire to imagine something transformative – a system that causes less harm.
Tell us about some ways allies and other racialized groups can support Black legal practitioners.
There are so many ways that allies and other racialized groups can support Black legal practitioners and the best way to start is by asking us instead of speaking for us – nothing about us, without us.
Tell us about some ways you take on community lawyering and serve the Black community.
Some of the ways that I take on community lawyering is by simplifying complex law and legislation and putting it into plain language and making it accessible to those impacted by it. I also take on community lawyering by amplifying the work of community organizers in the ways that I can. I also take on community lawyering and serve the Black community specifically in my capacity as the Director of Legal Initiatives and Public Interest at Black Femme Legal where I provide free legal information and non-legal resources to Black 2SLGBTQ+ workers in Ontario through a Black queer femme centered lens.
Tell us how you define community and why community is important to the practice of law.
For me, it’s hard to put into words how I would define community, but I can say how community makes me feel – safe, supported, held, accountable, liberated. Community is important to the practice of law because the law is not separate from community, and it is harmful to think of it as such.
“To build community requires vigilant awareness of the work we must continually do to undermine all the socialization that leads us to behave in ways that perpetuate domination.” – bell hooks
Tell us about an inspiring article or poem you read recently.
“Revolution is not a one-time event” – Audre Lorde
About Samantha Peters
Samantha Peters (she/her) is a lawyer, researcher and educator, whose work focuses on labour, employment and human rights law. She is also the Black Legal Mentor-in-Residence/Mentor Juridique pour la Communauté Noire at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law for the 2020 – 2021 academic year.
Samantha engages in work at the intersection of law, education and policy, ranging from law reform initiatives to legal education to legislative research. She is the Director of Legal Initiatives and Public Interest at Black Femme Legal, a project funded by the Law Foundation of Ontario, which provides legal and non-legal resources and support to Black 2SLGBTQI+ workers across Ontario through a Black femme-centered approach, lens and praxis. She is the National Vice-President of Equity and Anti-Oppression at the Canadian Association of Labour Lawyers, a member of the City of Toronto’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Two-Spirit (LGBTQ2S+) Council Advisory Body and a Pro Bono Lawyer where she provides free legal advice, brief services and referrals to women-identified survivors of domestic violence.
Samantha’s writing on topics such as intersectionality, Black women in the law and judicial education has appeared in Flare, Huffington Post Canada, SLAW, The Lawyer’s Daily and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives to name a few. In 2020, her essay titled “Making Social Context Education Mandatory: Why Cultural Competency Should Matter in the Courtroom” won the Canadian Bar Association’s Women Lawyers’ Forum’s inaugural “Writing Her In” competition.
Samantha can be followed on Twitter @SamPetersTO.
About Naomi Sayers
Naomi Sayers is an Indigenous feminist and lawyer from the Garden River First Nation. She tweets over at @kwetoday. She is published in New Zealand, Canada and forthcoming book chapter in Australia on technology facilitated gender based and sexual violence.
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