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From the OJEN Blog

Celebrating Youth’s Passion for Fairness – Tate’s Story

I met Ted Herbert a little over a year ago after he contacted our office with an unexpected proposal.  The Herbert family had lost their son, Tate, to cancer in 2013.  At the time he was just 20 years old, a first year university student, an exuberant, engaged youth on the path to adulthood.  Through the pain of their loss, the family had decided they would remember Tate’s life and give it added meaning with a special tribute and charity event. With the support of some talented friends, they mounted Tate’s Tableau, an evening of music and comedy dedicated to their son.  The proceeds from ticket sales and additional donations were to go to charities he would have appreciated.

Ted approached OJEN a few months before the event to ask if we would become one of two youth-serving charitable organizations to receive the proceeds from this event.  Never having had such a request before, we weren’t sure what to expect, but realized quickly that the Herbert family had a deep commitment to the success of the Tableaux.  They rented a large theatre in downtown Barrie, recruited talent, managed the marketing and ticket sales and on the evening of the event were rewarded with an audience of somewhere around 200 people.  When the receipts had been counted and the expenses paid, Ted visited our office and hand delivered a sizable cheque.

Why did the Herberts choose OJEN as the charity to support in their son’s name?  Certainly there are bigger organizations that are better known.   And it wasn’t even that the Herbert family had previous history with us.  What was clear, however, was that a significant part of Tate’s growth as an individual involved developing an appreciation for justice and an awareness of how the law could contribute to a fairer society.  The desire to explore these concepts further, led him to intern as a high school co-op student at the Barrie Legal Aid Clinic and later to pursue full time university studies in Wilfrid Laurier’s Law and Society program.

Many of OJEN’s project participants are youth going through their own process of discovery, forming perceptions of society, justice and themselves based on their observations and experiences.  Whether they are students in high school or disengaged from the school system, we have found that young people often have passionate opinions about justice and are eager to learn how to use the law to empower themselves and positively affect their communities.  Providing them with the knowledge, skills and attitudes to navigate the legal aspects of their lives and to become engaged citizens is a great part of OJEN’s goal.  But beyond preparing young people for our legally regulated world, we recognize how much youth have to offer our justice system too.  While creating opportunities for youth and justice professionals to engage in dialogue, we have found that it is not only the youth whose perceptions are transformed through these encounters.

Although we didn’t get to meet Tate, OJEN staff feel we understand something about those first steps he was taking to expand his awareness of law, equity and social justice.  These are big issues that demand setting aside the self-interest of the smaller self and considering the needs of others.  We understand why his family would appreciate and celebrate this quality in Tate.

Ted and the Herbert family plan to make the Tableaux an annual event and are busy organizing Tate’s Tableaux Two.  This year all of the proceeds will be donated to OJEN in support of our justice education initiatives for youth.  We are honoured that the Herbert family has chosen OJEN’s justice education activities to benefit from Tate’s legacy.

This campaign will be OJEN’s only year-end fundraising activity, so we ask that anyone who would like to support OJEN to please consider commemorating Tate’s life by making a donation to Tate’s Tableaux, either on line –click here – or by mailing a cheque made out to OJEN, 180 Dundas Street West, Suite 505, Toronto, ON M5G 1Z8.

Tax receipts will be given to all donations of $10 or more.

Tate’s Tableaux is taking place on Saturday, October 24th at 7:00 p.m. at the Barrie Army Navy Air Force Club, 7 George Street. Barrie, Ontario.

If you live in the Barrie area and would like to attend Tate’s Tableaux, click here.

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