Barristers sponsor food bank renovation in honor of Joe Burke at Debra Dynes Family House.
An Ottawa-based food bank was in desperate need of some much-needed renovations. Barristers for a Better Bytown, a charity that operates by raising funds to help support other charitable organizations, took on the $17,000 project for the food bank at Debra Dynes Family House. They decided to dedicate this particular project to Joe Burke, an Ottawa criminal defense lawyer.
In Joe’s time as a lawyer he often took on cases with little to no pay and dedicated his time and craft defending marginalized groups who ended up in the criminal justice system. He was particularly known for defending the rights of Indigenous people. He became interested in spending his time helping those who were caught up in the criminal justice system when he went to Queen’s University and became a member of the Correctional Law Project. This project focused on working with inmates, where his interest in assisting Indigenous people began. He would often meet with elders in prison sweat lodges.
During his time working with inmates and Indigenous people he became close friends with fellow defense lawyer Mark Ertel. According to the Ottowa Citizen, Ertel says the charity is dedicated to assist the Debra Dynes Family House whenever possible. Burke passed away nearly 20 years ago but his legacy of helping others still lives on. Barristers for a Better Bytown thought it would be an excellent opportunity to pay their respects to a man who dedicated his life to helping those whose in need. He’s even honored annually at the Joe Burke Wolfe Island Literary Festival, which was started by locally adored musician David Bidini of the Rhestatics. Joe Burke was an excellent example of the kind of impact one man can voluntarily have on so many, by living a life lead by loving and caring for others.