150 Profiles: Marie-Noël Campbell

As we mark the 150th anniversary of confederation, The Philanthropist is profiling Canadians from across the non-profit sector and putting a face to 150 individuals who work or volunteer in Canada’s social sector.

Name: Marie-Noël Campbell

Current role in the sector: Lawyer & Program Manager with Access Pro Bono

Years working and/or volunteering in the non-profit sector: Almost four years with Access Pro Bono. My first experience volunteering, having grown up in France, was with my parents for a charity that fights leprosy in West Africa.

What was your first job in the sector or a defining moment?
Shortly after I started volunteering for Access Pro Bono, Frank Yates, Clinic Coordinator, asked if I would be interested in helping set up a program to provide free representation to people detained at British Columbia mental health facilities. My first time observing a hearing, the applicant was an inpatient dressed in a hospital gown. Every time he spoke, he’d say he was not crazy. It was apparent that he did not understand the proceedings or the legal test for being released. Following that hearing, I felt determined to help provide others with legal representation, and so did over 200 lawyers, law students and community volunteers who joined the program to protect the rights of detained patients to have a fair hearing.

Describe your desk/workspace.
I try to keep my workspace neat and inviting. Apart from a desk and filing cabinets, my office has a colourful poster depicting a New Orleans street singer, a calendar with photographs of BC Old Growth Forests, a portrait of Gavroche (a fictional character from Hugo’s Les Misérables), and a box of goodies.

What are you reading or following that has expanded your understanding of the non-profit sector?
One notable book I have read recently is Storming the Digital Divide: The PovNet story, by Penny Goldsmith and Kara Sievewright, which retraces the history of the PovNet organization. PovNet has connected anti-poverty advocates located across British Columbia since 1997, before the Internet was widely available. The comic is an easy read that provides great insight into the evolution of social justice in British Columbia.

What do you think our sector needs to be thinking about?
I feel that we need to valourize both the people we serve and our work. I believe that a person’s value in society should not be commensurate with their income, but rather with their contributing to their community to the best of their abilities.

Do you know someone we should profile as part of this series? Email us at philanthropistprofiles@gmail.com


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