Your May 25th article on the death of Paud O’Donoghue, who you described as the principal architect of the modern Yukon legal system, was a well-deserved tribute to the man.
As his assistant, one of my duties was to talk to, and make notes of the stories from, the many women who came to him for help in claiming maintenance payments for their children. These were women (mostly quite young) who had been deserted by the father of these children.
At one time I asked him what I should say to them. His answer was to say something that would make them feel better. He helped them by taking their cases to court, and was successful in many. Often on the way to court, I would have to run with him cluing him in on the details of the case.
I was impressed by these girls. Their children were cared for, well dressed and well behaved, but their own manner was somewhat subdued, almost ashamed that they had found themselves to be in such a helpless position.
Most of them had low-paying jobs to enable them to feed and clothe their children.
As the atmosphere of our office at the time was informal and very unbureaucratic, it was easier for these girls to talk and clearly explain their situations, and not feel intimidated.
It was impossible for Paud to be intimidating, even though he would try by barking orders at me, sometimes in Latin or some other weird language, just to catch me off guard.
And I learned from him, not necessarily a language, but more the importance of being free to think for yourself and to stand up for your own convictions.