The Story Behind RDS

With widespread discussion around law enforcement and their interaction with young Black men, some people have tried to claim that these problems are not prevalent in Canada.

We know this to not be true on many grounds, but one of the early post-Charter cases was in 1997 with R. v. RDS, where the presiding judge took judicial notice of racial profiling that occurred in Halifax.

The Supreme Court of Canada rejected the calls of judicial bias, and upheld the trial decision. Worth noting is that the trial judge taking judicial notice of profiling was herself from the Afro-Nova Scotian community, again underscoring the need for people with lived experiences in making judicial decisions.

The young man in this case, who has now grown up decades later, has shared his story on CBC. The challenges of finding a lawyer itself is a perspective many in the bar would not be able to relate to, but even more powerful is how finding a lawyer in his community made a significant difference in his life.

I’ve had the opportunity to meet and speak with him myself, and even decades after this decision was heard by the Court, the case still affects him deeply. His story, as told by him today, is worth listening to.

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