She has worked with Indigenous people in Timmins and its surrounding communities
Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) has announced that Nancy Cooper is the 2022 recipient of the Sidney B. Linden Award, which annually recognizes exceptional individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to access to justice for low-income Ontarians.
LAO has acknowledged Cooper’s work and dedication to the needs of the Indigenous communities in Timmins and its surrounding communities. Cooper has provided legal services in criminal law, family law, and child protection throughout her career. Her work with legal aid clients encompasses accepting certificates, appearing as a per diem duty counsel, and serving on LAO’s Board from 2009 until 2020.
Cooper said she was shocked when she learned she was selected as this year’s Sidney B. Linden awardee. “There are so many exceptional individuals across the province who work tirelessly for people in very difficult circumstances. I was stunned to learn that I was the selected recipient for this year. It is a great honour.”
LAO chair Steve Pengelly commented, “The decision was unanimous. Throughout her career, Nancy has devoted her time and care to representing Indigenous people as well as low-income people in northern Ontario. She has always been a voice and advocate for those who need it the most.”
Legal Clinic Ontario’s director of HIV & AIDS Ryan Peck nominated Cooper for the award. He recalled that when he first met Cooper in 2017, he was “immediately struck by her incredible smarts, empathy, curiosity, dedication and likability.” He also pointed out that for over 30 years, Cooper has combined frontline legal aid work with systemic work to address the root causes of her clients’ legal issues.
“Nancy has always stepped up to provide the legal services that people require. For many years, on top of her busy day jobs, Nancy still made time to act as Nishnawbe-Aski duty counsel in the remote northern First Nation of Moose Cree,” Peck said.
Former LAO chair John McCamus likewise recognized Cooper’s contribution to the welfare of Northern Ontario Indigenous communities through her legal aid work and in many other ways. McCamus said he could not imagine a more suitable candidate for the Sidney B. Linden Award.
“Access to justice has always been a deeply felt principle for me. It is what draws me to continue working for legally aided clients year after year, particularly in northern Indigenous communities,” Cooper said.
LAO will honour Nancy Cooper at a ceremony in spring. The award is named in honour of Justice Sidney B. Linden, Legal Aid Ontario’s first chair of the board of directors, who has been involved with legal aid for over 37 years.