OUR FIRM

We help children and families of all shapes and sizes.

Child Protection

 

The stress and disruption to families dealing with the Children’s Aid Society is like no other.  We firmly believe that families need and deserve strong and effective representation at every step of a child protection proceeding.

 

We work closely with parents, grandparents and First Nations to protect a child’s best interests and ensure, whenever possible, that families stay together.  We have experience in facilitating the least disruptive options for families, including Aboriginal customary care, kinship placements, and creative custody arrangements.

 

If your child, or a child in your family or community has been apprehended by the Children’s Aid Society it is essential to immediately retain a lawyer.  The days following the apprehension are critical.  We have the expertise and drive to work quickly to have the child returned, when appropriate.

 

Band Representation

 

Clarke Child & Family Law respects the sovereignty and inherent jurisdictions of First Nations to govern and direct child welfare for their children and youth.  We have unique experience representing First Nations across Ontario under the Child, Youth and Family Services Act, 2017 where First Nations are parties to a child protection proceeding.  We strongly advocate on behalf of the First Nation to ensure that child protection agencies consult with the First Nation and make decisions for First Nations children and youth that ensure their culture, tradition and heritage is protected within the child welfare system.

We work with Band Representatives to develop and implement the First Nation’s unique approach to customary care, drafting and implementing customary care agreements that reflect the First Nation’s customs.  We also work with First Nations to support the development and implementation of their own child welfare laws under the new federal child welfare legislation, An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families.

We offer Band Representative training programs for our First Nation clients, providing expert guidance on the rights and obligations of First Nations in child protection proceedings.  We are deeply committed to assisting First Nations in the work they do supporting and protecting their children, youth and families. 
 

Contact Us

 

Call us now to assess your situation:

 

Tel: (416) 260-3030

Fax: (647) 689-3286

 

We are located in the heart of Toronto, and serve clients across the province.  You can find our offices at:

 

36 Toronto Street

Suite 950
Toronto ON

M5C 2C5
 

Or, email us:

 

help@childandfamilylaw.ca

 

OUR PEOPLE
We have the knowledge and experience necessary to help.
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​​Sarah Clarke  sarah@childandfamilylaw.ca

 

Sarah Clarke has supported and advocated for children and families throughout her career. Her practice is focused primarily in the area of child protection.  Sarah has significant experience working with and for First Nations and Indigenous communities in the context of child welfare, supporting Band Representatives throughout the province of Ontario.  Sarah has also supported and worked with First Nation communities across the country in high conflict child protection matters. In addition to her law degree, Sarah holds a Master of Social Work. 

 

Sarah was called to the bar in 2009. She commenced her practice in commercial litigation at a multinational Bay Street firm, where she first began representing the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society.  Sarah's work was recognized by L'expert Magazine with a Platinum Zenith Award and by Canadian Lawyer Magazine as one of the Top 25 Most Influential Lawyers in Canada (2016). Sarah also received the Ontario Bar Association President's Award as a member of the legal team with the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society (2017).

 

Sarah has acted in diverse and complex human rights, child protection and Indigenous law matters, and has appeared before the Child and Family Services Review Board, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, all levels of court in Ontario, the Federal Court and Federal Court of Appeal, and the Supreme Court of Canada.  Sarah has spoken at numerous conferences across Canada regarding Indigenous child welfare and the child welfare system.  She is also an adjunct academic staff at Queen's Faculty of Law where she teaches Indigenous Child Welfare.

 

Sarah is a member of the Ontario Association of Child Protection Lawyers (Toronto), as well as a member of the Canadian Bar Association, the Ontario Bar Association, and the Advocates' Society.

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Alanna Tevel  alanna@childandfamilylaw.ca

Alanna is an associate at Clarke Child & Family Law. Alanna graduated from the University of Toronto Faculty of Law in 2015. She practiced corporate law during her articles and as a first year associate. In 2017, Alanna returned to school to obtain a Master of Social Work degree at the University of Toronto, focusing her education on children and families. She had a student placement at a child protection agency, where she obtained a greater appreciation for the importance of advocating on behalf of families. 

 

Alanna's practice is focused in the area of child welfare. Over the course of her career, Alanna has represented families and several First Nation communities in child protection proceedings at the Ontario Court of Justice and the Superior Court of Justice across Ontario. 

 

In her spare time, Alanna volunteers for an organization that provides legal advice and social services to women who are subject to domestic abuse. Alanna is also on the Board of Directors of One Family Fund, an organization that provides supports to victims of terrorism. 

 

Alessandra Catalano  alex@childandfamilylaw.ca

Alessandra is an associate at Clarke Child & Family Law. She received her LL.B from the University of Glasgow in 2017 and joined the firm in 2018 while completing her accreditation courses with the Federation of Law Societies Canada as well as completing her articles with the firm. Prior to attending law school, Alessandra worked as an Instructor Therapist for Children with Autism and developmental delays within the private sector in Toronto. She obtained her Post Graduate degree in Behaviour Science and Technology and her Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and Criminal Justice with a concentration in law from Carleton University. Outside of law, Alessandra enjoys cooking, traveling, running, and weight training. Alessandra was called to the Bar in 2020.

 

 

 

Kayla Viau  kayla@childandfamilylaw.ca

Kayla is an associate at Clarke Child and Family Law. She was raised in her community of Taykwa Tagamou Nation, Treaty 9 territory. Kayla graduated from the University of Ottawa faculty of law in 2015 and was called to the bar of Ontario in June 2016. Kayla continued her studies and obtained a Masters of Education degree from the University of Toronto and a post-graduate certificate in Alternative Dispute Resolution from Humber College. Kayla completed a mediator-in-training program at Riverdale Mediation in May 2022 and intends to be certified as a family mediator. Prior to joining Clarke Child and Family Law, Kayla worked as the director of social services for her community.

In her free time, Kayla enjoys spending time with her family and friends and being out on the land, fishing, berry picking, running and playing with her dog. Kayla also sits on the board of directors for a First Nation owned forestry company and is a member of her community’s education committee

 

Melissa Westlake  melissa@childandfamilylaw.ca

Melissa is an articling student at Clarke Child & Family Law. She graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School at York University in 2016. During law school, she was one of twenty students accepted into the Criminal Law Intensive program. The program involves a work placement with either a Crown Attorney’s office, Criminal Defence firm or Judge; to which she was placed with a Criminal Defence firm and assisted three partners while attending court on the firm’s behalf. Prior to, during the summer months, and after attending law school, Melissa worked as a Child Protection Worker for the Durham Children’s Aid Society and Dnaagdawenmag Binnoojiiyag Child & Family Services. She is fully authorized as a Child Protection Worker by the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies. Melissa obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminology from the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. Most recently, Melissa was a Band Representative for her community, Temagami First Nation and assisted in the further expansion and development of their Band Representative program.

 

Outside of law, Melissa enjoys travelling, trying out new restaurants or cooking at home with her husband Dan, and spending time with her English Bulldog Sage to help hone her soccer skills.

Katherine Quintana-James katherine@childandfamilylaw.ca

Katherine joined Clarke Child and Family as a Legal Assistant in October 2021. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Guelph, achieving her BA in Criminal Justice and Public Policy in 2020. Katherine continued her academic studies at Centennial College where she received her Paralegal Certificate. With her passion for working with children, Katherine gained employment with the City of Toronto as an Adapted and Integrated Support Staff. In this role she provided personalized educational, behaviour and emotional support during recreational programs for children and adults with disabilities. In her spare time, she enjoys playing hockey, cheering on the Toronto Maple Leafs, listening to podcasts and watching true crime tv shows/documentaries.

Shem Gittens shem@childandfamilylaw.ca

Shem is a Law Clerk at Clarke Child and Family Law. He received his Ontario College Diploma from Seneca College in 2018. Shem hopes to use his diverse work experience and multicultural heritage to assist with swift and amicable resolutions. Outside of the office, Shem enjoys walks, cycling, and swimming.

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Julia Church  julia@childandfamilylaw.ca

Julia has been the Legal Assistant and Intake Coordinator at Clarke Child & Family Law since 2020.  She received her BA Psychology from McGill University, practicing as a Behavioural Therapist for children with Autism before starting a successful career as a professional makeup artist.  Julia has a keen interest in human behaviour and communication, as well as an abiding love for art and film.  In her spare time, she volunteers as an online moderator for Look Good Feel Better, an organization helping women to regain their confidence and hope while undergoing cancer treatment.