Toronto human rights lawyer Paolo Gomez empowers survivors
Paola Gomez’s career has been a convergence of human rights law, social justice, creative writing and artistic expression. It has culminated in her recently receiving the Constance E. Hamilton Award, given to recognize those who have made a significant contribution to improving the social, economic and political status of women in Toronto.
Gomez first came to Canada 12 years ago as a refugee from Colombia and settled on St. Clair Avenue West. Herself a survivor of violence, she channeled her experiences into her work as a human rights lawyer and community organizer, becoming an advocate for refugees and survivors of sexual violence.
“I believe that the voices of women need to be heard and validated and, most importantly, that survivors need to be empowered,” Gomez said.
As the co-founder of Sick Muse Art Projects, Gomez has fostered community engagement and integrated discussions about identity and inclusion into art programs and writing workshops. She’s currently working on a project with Syrian refugee women, encouraging them to share their stories.
“It’s easy to stereotype when you don’t know their faces or names, but with a glimpse into other people’s personal journeys, you realize they may have many elements similar to your own,” she said.