Canadian Fellowship Programme
Sabrina Sukhdeo recently completed the first year of her JD at the University of Toronto and holds a BA in Political Science from York University. At the University of Toronto, Sabrina was a volunteer researcher with both the Women’s Human Rights Programme and the Union-Side Labour and Employment Project, as well as an associate editor with the Indigenous Law Journal. She is excited and grateful to SASLAW for this unique opportunity to learn about the legal rights afforded to South African workers, along with the struggle to protect and enforce those rights in practice.
Anson Cai is going into his 2nd year at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. He previously obtained a BMus in Jazz at the University of Toronto. Anson volunteers with the FCJ Refugee Centre as a caseworker and at the UofT’s International Human Rights Program as a researcher for their Global Health and Human Rights working group. He is looking forward to learning about South African labour law and comparing the differences between the South African and Canadian legal systems.
Saqib is of Pakistani background but was born and raised in the Middle East (Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia) for 15 years before immigrating to Canada. He has an Undergraduate Degree in Criminology and a Masters in Socio-Legal Studies; the thesis for the latter was written on ISIS’ geo-political reality and their visual propaganda targeted at western audiences. He is currently at the tail-end of the JD/MBA program at the University of Toronto.
Saqib spent the summer of 2018 in Sierra Leone working for the Justice Sector Coordination Office, the legal strategy department under the Ministry of Justice. Saqib spent most of the year in 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland: in the summer he worked for the Office of the Office of High Commissioner of Human Rights where he had the opportunity to work closely on the Asia-Pacific region with the Field Operations and Tactical Cooperation Division; for the latter half of 2019 Saqib worked in the legal team of the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism on Syria.
Saqib’s past experiences are a manifestation of his desire to learn about disadvantage and offer the skills he has developed to organizations helping the disadvantaged. He is motivated to continue to develop my professional capabilities and offer his time and skill-set to the great work conducted by SASLAW Pro Bono Project and to its various trusted partners. Building a wholistic lens is essential to modern law and policy making, and he truly believes that this experience would be a substantial step in developing a more wholesome perspective that will be important for his professional growth.
Besides his interest in human rights and international law, Saqib works as a professional magician with his twin brother, loves to read and travel, and try new cuisine! He looks forward to meeting various people in the South African labor law space, albeit virtually.
Thank you to the Legal Resources Centre for their support of the Canadian Fellowship project. The fellows are participating in a research project on Land Reform and education.
The greatest threat to justice is inequality. The forces pushing the inequality barometer are changing. We’re rising to the changes, and we’re changing the way we rise. The Legal Resources Centre was established in 1979 to use the law as an instrument of justice, challenging the legal structures of apartheid. Apartheid is abolished in South Africa, but is replaced with structures and forces that aggravate inequality gaps and frustrate the realization of human rights for all. Obscene gaps between the education and security of tenure of the rich and poor remain, deepening the lines of discrimination and inequality. We believe that righting the wrongs and tackling the inequalities demands transparency, unbridled will and commitment to social and economic justice. To respond to our prevailing realities and to carve a transformative presence, we have concluded a strategic planning process to deliver measurable change. We’re changing the way we work and shifting resources to focus our energies on dismantling two identifiable fundamental bastions of inequality. With a targeted process we will make it possible for more people in South Africa to know and experience their land and education rights – both in their lifetime and inter-generationally. Our strategic focus on land and education arises from a review of the persistent inequalities that underlie the structural and inter-generational economic and social injustice in the country. Together with our partners and supporters, we’ll apply more pressure domestically and internationally for visible results, placing substantive transformative change at the heart of our efforts. Our legacy of fighting for freedom, social justice and equality in South Africa will propel us, and help us reignite a truly transformative organisation. At the LRC, over the past 40 years in South Africa we have, inter alia, played a significant role in dismantling apartheid, abolishing the death penalty and corporal punishment, advancing and protecting the constitutional rights of women, girls and people with disabilities, and made important breakthroughs in healthcare and environmental justice, as well as established significant precedents in land and education rights. Together with our supporters, we will continue to honour our legacy.
As SASLAW fellows, we have had the privilege to work with the Legal Resource Centre (LRC) on their 2020-2025 strategy that seeks to address social justice through a two-pronged approach, focusing on land rights and education rights in South Africa. For the latter, the strategy is focused on realising equitable and equal education rights for all South Africans where education rights and justice are lived realities, absent of discrimination and inter-generational poverty. It is the equal playing field offered through the educational system that can give everyone the equal opportunity to achieve their desired goals in society. In this vein, we assisted this endeavor by preparing a memo on how the right to literacy has been treated in other jurisdictions. We sought to outline relevant and supportive international legal instruments, foreign jurisprudence, comparative law, and legal commentary that could help guide the LRC Education Programme team to formulate a stronger case for their social justice strategy. We are grateful for the opportunity to have assisted this project and have learned a lot in the process.
It has been an incredible privilege to assist the Land Rights Programme at the Legal Resources Centre this summer. One of the LRC’s strategic aims is working toward land justice in South Africa through encouraging equitable access to land for farm dwellers, labour tenants, subsistence farmers, and communities living on communal or indigenous land. The latter group has been the focus of our research, as people living under traditional leadership and customary tenure systems are often denied the realization of their property rights. As part of our internship, we have helped explore different models of recording tenure rights and first registration, as well as how indigenous communities may assert their land rights and represent themselves in land claims without needing to rely on traditional authority. Our time with the LRC has been a valuable learning experience, and we are very grateful to the organization and its inspiring lawyers for providing this opportunity to be involved in such important and timely work.
The Directors and 2020 fellow would like to thank Lawtons Africa for allowing them to work on a Land Reform research project for the Free Market Foundation. We would like to thank, in particular, Candice Pillay, for her guidance and support of the students during the 2 week project. It was wonderful to give the students a project to investigate and report on, remotely, as they were not able to visit South Africa during their summer.
We are very grateful to our partners for their support.
Thanks to Norton Rose Fulbright in Toronto for hosting our fellows in August.
“We just wanted to express our appreciation for your efforts in arranging for us to sit in on the hearing today, and for taking the time to give us some background on the dispute yesterday. We enjoyed being able to see a snapshot of the labour arbitration process, specifically the examination of a witness. As students with a special interest in L&E, it was great to get this firsthand look. “ Saqib, Sabrina and Anson
Thanks to Ron Le Clair and Nicholas Preston for hosting the fellows in mid August at their offices in London, Ontario.
LeClair and Associates is a Canadian law firm located in London, Ontario, practising in all areas of management side labour and employment law, servicing business clients across Ontario.
Erica McLachlan, Him Ranjit and Jasmit De Saffel from the University of Toronto worked in the Pro bono office twice a week from mid-June until the end of August 2019. They enjoyed their time in South Africa, embraced the project whole heartedly, loved the city, and have found being at the firms very enlightening and interesting. The students have been exposed to the CCMA and other Courts.
Click here to download the University of Toronto Summer Fellowship Programme – Student feedback 2019
“I spent 11 weeks as a fellow with the South African Society for Labour Law (SASLAW). It would be an understatement to speak of the experience as a transformative one. As it would be inadequate to describe it as life changing. While both those statements are entirely true, they do not encapsulate the depth of learning, the personal and professional growth or the intensity of these 11 weeks in South Africa.”
“Working in South Africa, a country that is 25 years post-apartheid, was a powerful learning experience. In 1994, when the oppressive apartheid regime ended, the country introduced their Bill of Rights, which enshrined socio-economic protections, including labour rights. At the clinic, working exclusively on labour law matters, the legacy of apartheid infused all aspects of our work, from the inequitable racial divides between who provided/sought advice at the clinic, to the strong protections afforded to employees in principle. These experiences gave me a very new perspective on what it means to do human rights work and I know that I will still be reflecting on and learning from my time in South Africa for years to come.
I am incredibly grateful to the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, the International Human Rights Program and SASLAW for providing me with this incredible learning opportunity.”