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Called to the bar in the Kivalliq

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, February 23, 2011

RANKIN INLET - The second lawyer practising family law for Keewatin Legal Services was called to the bar in Rankin Inlet this past week.

NNSL photo/graphic

Lawyer Andrea Smart reads her oath while being called to the bar in Rankin Inlet in February of 2011. - Darrell Greer/NNSL photo

Andrea Smart was first called to the bar in Trinidad in 1981 and practised in the Caribbean for several years before moving to Canada, where she has lived for the past 21 years.

She has worked in Ontario since 1992, practising family law and working with a children's lawyer for the Ministry of the Attorney General in Ottawa, representing children in family court and in child protection proceedings.

Smart, who refers to herself as "past 45" years of age, said she's always had a desire to live in the North.

She said when she saw an opportunity to come to Rankin, she seized it.

"My contract was just finishing with the Ministry of the Attorney General and, with my kids being older, I was well-positioned to come here now," said Smart.

"Practising family law is a passion of mine and that's why I'm here."

Smart became the 21st person on staff with legal services, and a third family lawyer for the Kivalliq is scheduled to arrive in Rankin this coming month.

Smart arrived on Jan. 9 and has been quite impressed with Rankin.

"It's certainly a very warm, friendly and helpful community," said Smart.

"I felt like I fit in quickly.

"People from the south are afraid of the cold, but there's nothing to fear if you're well-dressed and protected."

Rankin residents weren't long in providing a few tips to help Smart feel at home in her new community.

She's already settled into a routine and joined an exercise class.

"I received good tips on how to play bingo and be effective at the penny sales.

"I'd never been to a penny sale where you practically bid on an item. It was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed myself."

Smart said every family law clinic has a heavy workload, so she wasn't apprehensive over what it might be like in the Kivalliq. She said her biggest adjustment has been the long-distance relationship with some of her clients.

"I've never practised in an environment before where there are remote communities and, sometimes, I don't see my clients face to face. I talk to them by telephone and that's been a bit different for me. But I'm really looking forward to the challenge of practising law in the North."

Smart's children are young adults pursuing their own careers, and she expects her husband to join her in Rankin shortly.

She said things have gone smoothly so far, even though Mother Nature was a bit frosty with her welcome.

"I got a small case of frostbite, but it's gone now.

"One of my co-workers told me I'd been initiated when he first saw it. I was just walking to the Royal Bank from the old CBC building, but, due to my lack of experience, I didn't protect my face properly.

"I'm just a Caribbean girl, so what can I tell you?"