Remembering Justin Clark and his Triumphant Victory for Disability Rights
- March 23, 2021
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On February 25, 2021, Justin Clark, passed away in an Ottawa hospital at the age of 58. Justin is remembered for his victory in Clark v Clark (link), an outcome which secured the protection and recognition of the independence of Canadians with disabilities. In 1982, after having lived in an institution for the majority of his life, Justin embarked on a legal journey to be declared mentally competent and legally capable of making his own decisions. The case was initiated by his parents, out of concern regarding what they believed to be in Justin’s best interest, to have their son declared incompetent and incapable of making his own decisions so that he remain at the Rideau Regional Centre, where he lived for 18 years of his life.
Justin testified through the use of his bliss board by pointing to symbols on the board which were read aloud. This was the first time a bliss board was used in a Canadian court. Remarkably, both of Justin’s parents stood up from their seats and applauded Justin upon the completion of his testimony. On November 25, 1982, Justin won his legal battle for freedom and independence in a landmark decision rendered by the late Justice John Ross Matheson of the Ontario Court of Justice.
Justin’s legal battle tore at the heart of a system in Canada that essentially took away the rights of persons with disabilities to manage their own lives. Justin’s victory, as described by a CBC article (link), changed all this by “paving the way for other people with disabilities fighting to make their own decisions, rather than have legal guardians make them on their behalf.” Following the ruling in Clark v Clark, as CBC further reports, guardianship laws across Canada were re-examined.
Bakerlaw was honoured to represent Justin in his important fight to protect his independence. For all his contributions, Justin holds a special place in our memory. May he rest in peace. CBC News commemorated the passing of Justin in a recent article, which you can read here (link).
To learn more about Justin and his remarkable story, please visit the following links: