I am Vladimir Reznik, and I am running for paralegal bencher of the Law Society of Ontario in the 2023 election.
This video is my introduction to the series of videos that I will be posing over the next few weeks. In these videos I will continue to introduce myself, and reflect with you on matters that are important in this election.
One of the reasons I am running for bencher is because I wish to contribute to the diversity at the Convocation. Now, if you just look at me and you don’t know me, this statement might sound strange. A fair-skinned middle-aged Jewish man seeking a role in governance among a bunch of lawyers, generally doesn’t break any glass ceilings.
So I wanted to share some of my background with you. I certainly wasn’t born into privilege. I have experienced privilege simply by virtue of being a Canadian traveling to other parts of the World. But my family and I come from a poor little Jewish settlement in the former Soviet Union. My father is a Holocaust survivor, he comes from a family of farm workers. His own father, my grandfather, died a horrific death at a Nazi camp. My dad is the first in his family line to become an engineer.
My mother’s family were shoemakers and other tradesmen. She became the first in her family to be university educated. Back in the Soviet Union, aside from the common lack of liberties and other common horrors of communism, my parents and I experienced antisemitism of a systematic nature. We always felt like outsiders, we had to overcame considerable biases, even hatreds, and barriers to education and employment. At some universities and workplaces there was even a quota on only accepting as many Jews as a representative percentage in the population. Certain industries like defence, government, upper management in general, law, they were generally not open even to the Jews at all. Religious persecution was rampant. I got to experience that myself when I was threatened with expulsion from my university for my unsanctioned activism. I was a member in the governing body of the Jewish Student Union where I was chairing the Culture Committee. I couldn’t complete my university studies then. I fled that country, a country, which until today is regarded as the last remaining dictatorship in Europe.
I arrived in Canada 32 years ago. My first work here was a translator at an immigration law firm, working with my community. Within that law firm by about 1992 I became a self-taught immigration paralegal. I am now the first person in my line of ancestors to be studying for a law degree.
So, when I look at someone like myself, and paralegals like me, including immigrants from all other parts of the World, from Europe to Latin America, Africa, Asia, even lawyers who may be foreign educated lawyers, or lawyers and paralegals with who come from immigrant communities, I don’t see us, the actual first generation of new Canadians being represented at the Convocation.
Even English language, a skill that is taken for granted by so many people especially lawyers, not only does it not come easy for many of us. It is a tremendous barrier, a barrier to education, a barrier to any economic success, above all a tremendous barrier to access to justice. I am now doing my law degree at the age of 53. My youngest daughter is going to university next year, and I am still in school for myself. So, at the age of 57, hopefully when I complete my bencher term, I might become a young lawyer.
But paralegals like me, who work in our ethnic communities, the communities of new Canadians, where we are faced with these types of barriers, we have a very unique perspective on access to justice, and certainty a very valid perspective on diversity and inclusion. Yet I don’t feel like this segment of our society is even represented among the governors who regulate on matters of improving that access to justice.
Actually, I am not only a member of a Jewish Russian-speaking community. I have also for the last 25 years been an avid student of Afro-Caribbean culture, Afro-Cuban folklore and traditional African philosophy. I take those as private studies of my personal interest by learning from and interacting directly with members of those communities.
I have also done work as an executive at a company called Panama Festivals promoting Panamanian culture in Canada. I consider myself a part of Spanish-speaking community as well. I speak fluent Spanish as my third language. As a result, I have been exposed to not just the community of Russian-speaking Canadians, and the community of Canadians from Belarus, the country where I was raised, and the Ukrainian Canadian culture where I have so many friends, and obviously the European Jewish culture in general, but also, Caribbean and Latin American community, and even further through the African component of my folkloric and tradition studies, I have been able to gain some fascinating views into the original Yoruba culture.
I find that people like myself who have been exposed to these types of life experiences, these types of challenges and as a result are capable of contributing through these types of insights, are either significantly underrepresented or not at all represented at the Convocation.
Also, as important as it is, my exposure is not limited to diverse community backgrounds, but also diverse business backgrounds. Aside from being an immigrant with its challenges, I am also someone who has not only been a part of the paralegal profession from 30 years ago at its infancy, but also have taken some detours from my paralegal career, and endeavoured into real estate and business ventures, and then I came back to paralegal work through the same journey as someone completely new, and I got to experience those challenges, the challenges of new paralegals, and I developed relevant insights.
That is what I offer to bring to the table at the Convocation. I believe that I am capable of representing and speaking for such a vast diversity of voices in a very meaningful way. I think that this is also a part of what good governance should be about. It’s about the fact that Convocation should be more representative of the society that it serves.
But that is one of the reasons that I am asking for your vote. I am also asking you to look for my other videos and articles that I will be putting out, so you can also appreciate the substance of my platform. A platform of being a candidate who makes sense.
Also talk to me, let me know your thoughts. I want to make sure that your voice is also heard at that table.
That’s what I wanted to share in this post. Now you have a better idea of who is this Vladimir Reznik, running for paralegal bencher of the Law Society of Ontario in the 2023 election.
Thank you for taking the time to get to know me.