THE ADVOCATE 603
VOL. 79 PART 4 JULY 2021
eye contact with Douglas on the seawall in Kitsilano. Before long, they were
married, and Diana was finally having that family she always wanted.
As chair of the BC Human Rights Tribunal, Diana noticed the low numbers
of Indigenous applicants. She wanted to know why and commissioned
Ardith (Walpetko We’dalx) Walkem, Q.C. (now Justice Walkem of the B.C.
Supreme Court) to assess the situation and make recommendations to
improve it. The report, Expanding Our Vision: Cultural Equality & Indigenous
Peoples’ Human Rights, concluded, based on a survey and interviews of over
100 Indigenous people, that many did not know the tribunal existed; if they
did, they had no trust that it would provide a remedy for the many “microdiscriminations”
they faced regularly, and if they did bring forward a complaint,
they found the process alienating, with many obstacles to success.
Diana accepted these tough conclusions with sorrow, courage and an
impressive lack of defensiveness. She moved quickly to implement the recommendations
that were within the jurisdiction of the tribunal and to advocate
in relation to those that were not.
Diana’s courage, integrity, determination and skills were also manifested
in her effort to improve access to justice at the Mental Health Review Board.
A long-term medical member of that board attributed her success to the
combination of her being a good listener, who is persistently kind and
respectful to everyone she deals with, and her superior intelligence. She
insisted on change, keeping her advocacy for the underdog front and centre.
At the same time, she reduced the inevitable resistance by including everyone
in the change process, patiently listening to the concerns of those who
had to implement the changes and modifying the plan accordingly, so long
as modification did not undermine the goal of access to justice. This team
approach paid dividends, resulting in significant change in a very short
period of time.
I will end with some predictions. You will be hearing more of Judge Diana
Vandor. She will bloom in her new role, and soon she will be a force to be
reckoned with in the journey to a justice system that is truly accessible.