UVic Law remembers Joseph J. Arvay, OC, OBC, QC, LLD with the establishment of a legacy fund

It is with great sadness that we mourn the death of Joseph Arvay. He was a wonderful, greatly loved human being and an exceptional and tireless advocate for individuals and groups whose basic human rights were being infringed.  He was a committed champion of access to justice by, for example, taking on many public interest cases pro bono and initiating innovative litigation to provide pre-authorized costs for public interest cases.

Portrait of Joseph ArvayJoe is widely recognized as one of the most brilliant and successful constitutional and civil liberties lawyers of his time.  He appeared in the Supreme Court of Canada over 75 times on some of the defining cases of our generation including, among many others, medical assistance in dying, access to legal safe injection sites, Indigenous rights and reconciliation, the right of workers to associate in pursuit of workplace goals, LGBTQ rights, an attack on solitary confinement practices in federal prisons as cruel and unusual treatment, and at the time of his death, a challenge to the federal government’s response to the climate change emergency on behalf of 15 young persons. 

Joe was a great friend and supporter of UVic Law and an inspiring role model for our students. We are pleased that we were able to acknowledge his public interest law commitment and achievements with an Honorary Doctor of Laws (LLD) in 2018. To pay respect to Joe’s legacy of both public interest advocacy and to Indigenous reconciliation in BC and across Canada, the Joseph Arvay Legacy Fund has been created at the University of Victoria Faculty of Law. This fund will be used to encourage and support law students who have an interest in following the visionary work of Joe Arvay in pursuing public law activities, and who show the aptitude and talent for this specialized branch of law.

The fund will be used to support activities such as:

  • providing paid work experience placements for students at influential public-interest organizations, especially when such agencies cannot afford to pay salaries themselves
  • supporting student awards and financial aid in recognition of student achievements and career promise in public interest law
  • connecting students with career professionals to provide specialized expertise, mentoring and training in public interest law

To make a tax-deductible contribution to the Joseph Arvay Legacy Fund visit https://extrweb.uvic.ca/donate-online/joseph-arvay-legacy-fund


 The University of Victoria is grateful to the members of the Joseph Arvay Legacy Fund committee:

Connie Addario

Louise Arbour, CC, GOQ

Catherine Boies Parker, QC

Dean Susan Breau

Greg Delbigio, QC

Professor Gerry Ferguson

Richard Fyfe, QC

Robin Gage

Peter Juk, QC

Josh Paterson

Andrew Petter, CM, QC

Honourable Murray Rankin, QC

The Honourable Lynn Smith, OC, QC

Professor Chris Tollefson

Mark Underhill


 *Thanks to David Goatley for permission to use his print of Joseph Arvay.