2017 Sydney B. Linden Award goes to Grace Plucino
Grace Pluchino, a community legal worker at the forefront of tenants’ rights for the past 30 years, is this year’s recipient of the Sidney B. Linden Award given by Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) to honour exceptional individuals who help low-income Ontarians in the pursuit of access to justice.
In a nomination jointly made by the community legal clinics in Rexdale, Downsview, South Etobicoke and Willowdale, Ms. Pluchino was lauded for her work in tenant advocacy on a corporate level—she had led several campaigns to pressure the Toronto Community Housing Corporation to live up to their standards over a 20 year period, speaking out with the City of Toronto’s ombudsman and board and with Toronto city council—and on a personal level, getting clients assistance with groceries, cleaning and moving.
“I am honored to be the first non-lawyer to be given the Sidney B. Linden Award,” says Ms. Pluchino. “I’m proud of the work legal clinics and community agencies have done together to continue to ensure that everyone has a place to call home.”
LAO’s chair, John McCamus, notes that legal aid clinics in Ontario offer public legal education, community development and law reform as well as individual case work.
“Working in legal aid clinics requires someone who is not only intelligent and willing to serve others, but someone with compassion, determination and a drive to help clients.” McCamus says. “Grace Pluchino is a stellar example of what a community legal worker can achieve in a lifetime of dedicated work at a clinic.”
Ann McRae, Director of Legal Services at Rexdale Community Legal Clinic, adds, “In the best tradition of legal aid clinics, Grace has used her experience ‘in the trenches’ to foster community development. With her clinic colleagues, Grace has been involved in projects to educate tenants about their rights and to coach clients to help themselves when legal resources were scarce. With public housing clients, Grace succeeded in getting the Toronto Community Housing Corporation, as Toronto’s largest landlord, to improve its processes and demonstrate greater accountability to its tenants.”
LAO honoured Ms. Pluchino in a ceremony in Toronto on February 22, 2018.
About the award
LAO’s Sidney B. Linden Award recognizes exceptional individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to helping low-income Ontarians in the pursuit of access to justice. The award has been presented to ten recipients previously: Ryan Peck, Bob Richardson, William A. (Bill) Sullivan, Fergus J. (Chip) O’Connor, Peter G. Kirby, Michael Bossin, Barbara Jackman, J. Robert Kellermann, Paul Copeland, and the late Dianne Martin.