Who we are

The Immigration and Refugee Legal Clinic provides free legal advice and representation, with interpretation services, for low-income people across BC. The clinic acts as a safety net for individuals and families, whose cases are not covered or easy to serve in the traditional legal aid system. 

Alongside our casework, we advocate for change on issues that repeatedly come up for our clients by engaging in systemic litigation and law reform efforts. We provide legal education to community groups and service providers across BC. Clinic staff also serve as mentors to law students and junior lawyers interested in the refugee and immigration law field.   

Our guiding values

We aim to reach those who often fall through the cracks of our legal system and provide them with excellent, respectful, and caring legal advice and representation.

Legal excellence

We strive to maintain a high standard of legal excellence in all the work we do for our clients, whether we are helping them to understand their legal options, providing written submissions to a decision-maker, or making oral arguments before a court.

Accessibility

We work to reduce barriers to accessing legal services, including linguistic, cultural, functional and physical barriers. This commitment requires us to be flexible, responsive and innovative in how we deliver and modify our services.

Respect and care

Being an excellent lawyer must include treating your clients with dignity, respect, and sensitivity.

A new legal clinic for BC

The provincial government’s External Review of Legal Aid Services in BC, Roads to Revival, concluded in early 2019 that a new immigration and refugee legal clinic needed to be created to complement the legal aid system and to “take on urgent and complex cases.” The Immigration and Refugee Legal Clinic was created in response to this review. It is the only legal clinic dedicated to immigration and refugee issues in western Canada.

The clinic is deeply committed to creating a service that is responsive and effective. Staff at the legal clinic have worked for many years in the immigration and refugee law area.

Meet our team

Juliana Dalley (she, her)

Clinic Co-Lead and Staff Lawyer

Juliana Dalley (she, her)

Clinic Co-Lead and Staff Lawyer

Juliana is a passionate advocate for newcomers to Canada. Prior to joining the IRLC, Juliana worked as an immigration and refugee lawyer in private practice and at a legal clinic where she helped migrant workers with immigration and employment issues. She has appeared before all levels of the Immigration and Refugee Board as well as the Federal Court and has testified before House of Commons standing committees. Juliana clerked for Madam Justice Hansen at the Federal Court of Canada after receiving her law degree in 2013.

Darcy Golden (she, her)

Clinic Co-Lead and Staff Lawyer

Darcy Golden (she, her)

Clinic Co-Lead and Staff Lawyer

Darcy Golden is a dedicated legal advocate. Prior to joining the IRLC, Darcy worked with newcomers to Canada as a sole practitioner in private practice. Darcy’s legal education includes an internship at the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative in Accra, Ghana, a fellowship at the Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto and an internship at the Together Against Poverty Society in Victoria, BC. Darcy has represented clients at the Immigration and Refugee Board, the Federal Court and the Provincial Court of British Columbia.

Jinhee Lee (she, her)

Operations Manager

Jinhee Lee (she, her)

Operations Manager

Jinhee obtained her Bachelor of Laws degree from South Korea, and immigrated to Canada in 2015. After arriving in Canada, Jinhee worked at a legal clinic in Edmonton, where she found her passion providing legal support to people who are in challenging circumstances. She continued working at an immigration law firm after relocating to Vancouver where she gained extensive knowledge of immigration & refugee law and developed her management skills. She is fluent in Korean, and in her spare time, she enjoys knitting.

Laura Best (she, her)

Lawyer

Laura Best (she, her)

Lawyer

Laura believes that everyone has a right to live in safety, and that Canada should be a safe haven for those who need it. She is experienced in helping reunite families, aiding those fleeing war or persecution, and assisting students and workers find their way in Canada. She has over 10 years of experience in immigration and refugee law in both British Columbia and Ontario. Laura regularly appears before all levels of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada and the Federal Court of Canada. She is frequently relied upon by various media outlets to comment on issues relevant to Canadian immigration and is often asked to speak at legal conferences and community events.

Karen Jantzen (she, her)

Lawyer

Karen Jantzen (she, her)

Lawyer

Karen graduated from UBC with a law degree in 2021. She previously worked and volunteered with various organizations that support refugees, immigrants, and migrant workers in Winnipeg, Edmonton, and Vancouver. She plans to use what she is learning to continue advocating on behalf of newcomers to Canada. In her free time, Karen enjoys baking, crocheting, and cycling.

Lesley Stalker (she, her)

Senior Staff Lawyer

Lesley Stalker (she, her)

Senior Staff Lawyer

Lesley met her first refugee “client” at the student clinic at the law school where she studied. Decades later, she continues to be impassioned by the stories that refugees and migrants carry. Early in her practice, Lesley realized there is a conundrum in refugee law: those who are most in need of protection are often the least able to articulate that need due to the effects of trauma. She took a gap in her practice to work as regional legal officer with the UNHCR in Vancouver for 3-1/2 years, and worked with local groups to establish the READY Tours, a project which helps claimants understand the refugee process. Lesley also served as a Member (decision-maker) with the Immigration and Refugee Board for 4-1/2 years. She is delighted to be at the IRLC, and looks forward to meeting more people with remarkable stories.

 

Her favourite things include, in no particular order of importance, blueberries, chocolate and the green of the first leaves of spring.

Xilonen Hanson Pastran (she/her)

Articled Student

Xilonen Hanson Pastran (she/her)

Articled Student

Xilonen is an articled student working at the clinic. She just completed her J.D. from the University of Victoria. Before joining the IRLC, Xilonen worked as a research assistant on projects involving family law, class-action settlements, and restorative justice. She was a recipient of the 2020 BC Lieutenant Governor’s Silver Medal for Democracy, Inclusion, and Reconciliation.  In her free time, she enjoys walking with her dog, Mijo.  

Niamh Stowell (she, her)

Legal Assistant

Niamh Stowell (she, her)

Legal Assistant

Niamh previously worked in immigration law in the UK. She has an MSci in International Relations and Global Issues from the University of Nottingham. After graduating she obtained her legal qualifications and has worked in both immigration private practice and third sector. Whilst in the UK she worked primarily on refugee and human rights claims, as well as running a legal outreach advice program. She recently emigrated to Canada, and in her spare time she enjoys exploring British Columbia, reading and sewing.

Nathalia da Silva Oliveira (she, her)

Legal Assistant

Nathalia da Silva Oliveira (she, her)

Legal Assistant

Nathalia obtained a Bachelor of Law degree in Brazil, and she immigrated to Canada in 2014. She works with immigration law since 2015, and she is passionate about refugee law and humanitarian and compassionate causes. She is currently completing her LLM in Common Law at Osgoode Hall Law School. Nathalia is fluent in Portuguese (Brazil) and Spanish. In her free time, she loves baking, meditating, and reading.

Omar Chu (he, him)

Community Legal Worker

Omar Chu (he, him)

Community Legal Worker

Through his involvement with grassroots migrant justice movements, Omar Chu has been assisting with immigration and refugee legal issues for over ten years.  He has a BA in Peace Studies from the University of Bradford, and he has worked fighting for rights and better policy with the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition and the BC Health Coalition. He can speak French conversationally and can tell when his friends are making fun of him in Spanish.

Fran Gallo (she, her)

Volunteer

Fran Gallo (she, her)

Volunteer

Fran has been working or volunteering to support refugee claimants since arriving in Canada in 2001.  She received a B.A. in International Relations from Pitzer College and a M.A. in Latin American Studies from Georgetown University.  Fran enjoys improving her Spanish language skills and studying beginner level French.