Dom Bautista, a 2020 Community Awardee, was recognized for devoting his time and expertise to help individuals obtain access to the justice system in Vancouver, Richmond and Surrey. In 2010 Dom launched Amici Curiae Friendship Society (ACFS) to provide legal services to low-income women who would not otherwise receive help due to language or financial barriers. A role model in his community, Dom leads a formidable team of paralegals, lawyers, law students and others, all working on a pro bono basis to deliver access to justice throughout BC communities.
His unique contributions were further recognized by the Board of BC Achievement which honoured him with the 2020 Mitchell Award of Distinction. It is the fourth annual presentation of the Award which recognizes an individual who, through his or her work and volunteer activities, demonstrates a selfless style empowering others to lead.
In this role, Dom shared his thoughts on behalf of all the 2020 recipients:
Having been trained by the Jesuits makes it difficult for me to be in the limelight. It is quite humbling of course to be recognized and so, in accepting the Mitchell Award, I do so on behalf of all British Columbians, especially the underprivileged, underserved and unrepresented in our legal system. It is my hope that the Mitchell Award will shine the light on them.
I am accepting this recognition on behalf of Amici Curiae Friendship Society. Amici Curiae is Italian for ‘friends of the court’. ACFS’s services are provided on the principle of equal access to justice in response to the challenges that British Columbians face to access legal services.
Since its inception in 2010, ACFS has been providing equal access to justice by helping individuals fill out their legal forms. This means going beyond the application of a simple financial eligibility test. Equal access to justice includes an assessment of an individual’s capacity to navigate what has become a complex and inaccessible legal system for many British Columbians. And this principle of equal access to justice has become even more relevant as we all deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is important for Amici Curiae volunteers to strive to work with BC’s Indigenous peoples, and the many challenging legal issues they face. It is Amici Curiae’s way of reconciling Canada’s past with its future. To that end, Amici Curiae will continue to help in whatever ways we can. I hope that we can each contribute toward reconciliation with BC’s Indigenous peoples.
Being home more these days has provided me with time to reflect. My love affair with Canada began in 1975 when my father invited me to remain in Vancouver to study. My father did his fair share of volunteering, the Mitchell Award is as much his as it is mine. Volunteerism is a layered legacy that runs deep in the Bautista family, it is a most treasured gift that we pass on to the future…to our children, and soon, to our first grandchild, Baby Aroo and future Bautistas.
On behalf of the awardees, I hope we each find inspiration in the work that we can do to make British Columbia a better place for future generations. Giving back, no matter how big or how small, will and can make a profound difference to someone.
The 2021 Community Award is accepting nominations until January 31st. Nominate a deserving individual and help elevate excellence, share success and inspire change.