Lawyer for the People

Andrew Joe

Admired for his quick mind and oratorical skills, Andy Way Yin Joe was BC’s first Chinese Canadian lawyer and Canada’s second. The Victoria-born Joe studied law after serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II. He used his training to fight injustice and racism, often working without payment, earning his reputation as “a people’s lawyer”. He battled city hall to stop the erection of a firehall complex next to a school and a freeway that would have divided Chinatown, and fought a health regulation aimed at ending the Chinese traditional way of making and selling barbecue meats. Joe’s family was often drafted to assist with sign-making and leafleting. His daughter Pamela recalls, “Other families went hiking or they went skating. We protested.” In 2018 he was honoured with the Order of British Columbia.