Degrees of understanding

Angus Grant '01"When things go right in my job," says Angus Grant, "it's an incredibly gratifying moment and I go dancing home. I can think of nothing I'd rather do. When things go badly, it can be extremely frustrating."

Lately, some big things have gone right for Grant, 37, a refugee lawyer with Legal Aid Ontario and in his own private practice. He was an intervener on a widely publicized case involving a child refugee who was returned to Mexico against her will. The appeal was successful and the girl is back in Canada. Grant also litigated a case on behalf of immigration applicants who could not afford to pay Ottawa's $550 processing fee. The Federal Court of Appeal decided in their favour, ruling that the fee could be challenged in certain cases. Still in the courts is a test case that involves people without status and their rights to public healthcare.

For Grant, who obtained his JD/MSW in 2001, it's all in a day's work. "I guess you could say that I've always known that I would do something related to the kind of work I do," he says.  "I grew up in a very international household. My father helped found Oxfam Canada; he flew relief supplies into Biafra [now part of Nigeria] during the civil war."

That background, and a bachelor's in international development studies, led him to the joint degree, where Grant hoped to bridge the gap between the development of social policy and its practical, day-to -day legal application. "I deal with people every single day who have come from extremely difficult, troubling, scarring circumstances," he says.  "The social work degree is tremendously beneficial in understanding the effects of what they've experienced."

And Grant is not done yet. In the fall, he'll begin work on his doctorate in law - furthering his ongoing quest to make things go right more often, for more people.

Story by Karen Gross

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