Spotlight: Maryka Omatsu
This month’s second spotlight is Judge Maryka Omatsu. Judge Omatsu is Canada’s first East Asian woman judge. She has been on the Ontario bench for 29 years and is now semi-retired. She co-founded FACL and remains a FACL BC member.
1. What is something not many people know about you?
When I was an undergraduate student, I took a year off and backpacked aroence made me want to make a difference. So in 1972, I enrolled in law school, despite my father saying: “Who would go to a woman lawyer?”
2. How did you first get involved with FACL?
I started FACL Ontario 15 years ago, with Judge Avvy Go. We wanted an Asian Canadian activist legal organization that would fight for justice and against racism; support our communities and one another. Ten years ago, I helped get FACL BC off the ground.
3. What advice would you give yourself if you were to go back in time?
I was raised as a typical third generation Japanese Canadian girl to be quiet, polite, and unassuming. It has taken a lifetime for me to try and overcome this socialization. Today, I would advise myself to be more assertive and bolder, aim higher and be fearless.
4. What has been your favourite FACL event or initiative so far?
In Ontario, it’s been the annual FACL conferences, for their energy and exchange of ideas. In B.C., I have enjoyed the dim sum lunches, barbeques, and family suppers for the feelings of comradeship.