Ryan Peck wins the 2016 Sidney B. Linden Award // The Circuit

Ryan Peck and Yasir Naqvi
Peck has dedicated his career to representing people living with HIV and AIDS

By Daniel Fish

On Wednesday March 1st, 2017


What: The 2016 Sidney B. Linden Award Ceremony
Where: Osgoode Hall
When: Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

At the midpoint of his speech at Osgoode Hall, this past Thursday, Ryan Peck rattled off a series of sad statistics.

“Fifteen percent of Canadians are afraid of people who are living with HIV,” he said, citing a 2012 nationwide study. “And 24 percent would be uncomfortable wearing a sweater that someone with HIV had worn just once.”

“It’s shameful,” he said.

Peck spoke from experience. He’s been the executive director of the HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario for a decade, and was on hand to accept the Sydney B. Linden Award, which Legal Aid Ontario doles out each year to a lawyer who’s dedicated to helping the poorest in the province.

People living with HIV and AIDS face an unending stream of legal problems. Some experience human-rights abuses at work. Others are refugees who need help to qualify for access to medication.

And when Peck, along with his colleagues at the clinic, step in to help, they often do more than offer basic legal advice. If someone with HIV is fired, for instance, Peck will address the employment-law issue, but then make sure they don’t lose access to medication or housing. In his speech, Peck summed up this philosophy in a tidy phrase: “Traditional lawyering is not the answer.”

To learn more about the HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario, visit the clinic’s website.

Photography by Yvonne Bambrick