Cidalia Faria is an Azorean born Canadian lawyer in downtown Toronto. She has promoted education, particularly in the Luso-Canadian community, civic engagement, and race & gender equality.
She has done so in the capacity of Guest Speaker, Panelist, Lecturer, Board Director, and Mentor, for organizations such Abrigo, The Federation of Portuguese Canadian Business Professionals, Working Women, The Mayor’s Race and Ethnic Relations Committee, and co-founding the Portuguese Canadian Lawyers Association over the years.
Faria is currently a volunteer member of a legal team for Crossroads International in Tanzania expanding their Access to Justice for Women and Girls program by addressing the prosecution of Gender Based Violence in the legal system.
Since 2000, Cidalia Faria has been an Assistant Crown Attorney in the Toronto-Downtown office and has prosecuted all manner of Criminal Code offences.
Milénio Stadium: What’s your opinion about Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms?
Cidalia Faria: The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is one of the most fundamental human rights pieces of legislation embedded in our Constitution, one that is consulted, reviewed, and at times inspiring to other countries exploring their own development in human rights. Although a critical foundation, it’s interpretation is constantly evolving as does our understanding of human rights.
MS: One in three Aboriginal women suffered abuse at the hands of her partner.
CF: The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, as well as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report, outline in a detailed, comprehensive, documented way the manner by which Indigenous people in Canada were colonized, and the way the trauma of colonization is still perpetuated and experienced today. Intimate partner violence and how it manifests itself in Indigenous families, communities, and between partners is one type of such violence and is affected by history. There are similarities and differences of how women experience domestic violence, who they can turn to, or not, what options they have, or not, and the complex reasons that violence is perpetuated by, at times Indigenous men who have themselves observed and experienced horrible violence. The resources to understand and serve Aboriginal women in domestic violence circumstances is still scarce. More needs to be done to empower Indigenous women to heal as they see fit, and to deal with this violence in the best ways that fit their experience and history of it.
MS: Black males living in Toronto are three times more likely to be stopped and asked for identification by police. Employers are about 40% more likely to interview a job applicant with an English-sounding name despite identical education, skills and experience.
CF: It is well documented that stereotypes and racism still expresses itself in actions, even in our community that strives to eliminate it, and so it is not surprising that this conduct exists. What is surprising is that we as a community, who are not racialized, and may not experience race discrimination, do want to accept what the research and experiences of racialized people, and work harder to eliminate unacceptable conduct. We all must confront both systemic bias and overt bias, and that does mean action.
MS: In 2017, 17% of hate crimes in Canada targeted Muslin population.
CF: There is a rise in Islamophobia that is well documented. When national and international events are reported through a particular, and at times, narrow and biased lens, the result is that a misinformed population then expresses negativity targeting specific communities. This has happened with the Muslim community in Canada as your data shows. I think we have to be more vigilant in our conversations, our media, our education to ensure that we do not contribute to the maligning of a community, and further identify bias and eradicate it so that it does not grow.
MS: Around 20% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ2I.
CF: Although Canada and Toronto leads the way in many areas of LGBTQ2I rights, it does not mean we are where we should be when it comes to accepting, respecting, nurturing, and celebrating sexual identity. We still do not embrace the fact that we all have the right to be and express ourselves and our sexuality as we feel it. LGBTQ2I youth still bear the brunt of centuries of hatred. Sometimes they become homeless – tragically – when they are kicked out of their families when they most need to be loved and nurtured. Your statistic of 20% should be a wake-up call to all families, educators, and communities that we are mistreating our LGBTQ2I youth.