Country of Origin:
Immigration, Aboriginal Issues, Human Rights & Social Justice, Adjusting to Life in Canada
In the Audio I am describing the Alternate Image 1,2, 3 and 4 VIMEO PASSWORD IS:lastcasefestival
Fernando Torres is a Human Rights lawyer from Peru who worked as a commissioner at the Office of the National Ombudsman. He acted as a mediator in several land-use conflicts, negotiating mutually-beneficial agreements between local indigenous groups, mining companies, and the government.
Fernando Torres was an assistant professor in the Law Department at Huánuco University. His interest in the successful resolution of social conflicts led him to take professional development courses at the Inter-American Court of Justice in Costa Rica and at the Unión de Juristas in Cuba. Before becoming an Ombudsman commissioner, he worked as a legal advisor for the Peruvian Parliament, the National Elections Office and the National Tax Office. He and his wife moved to Vancouver in the spring of 2009 and since then is a regular writer for the Latino Newspaper “Sin Fronteras”.
In 2012, he completed the Aboriginal Leadership Certificate at the Justice Institute of British Columbia and then was part of The Native Courtworker Office at The Provincial Court of Vancouver. In 2014 he directed and produced the short Documentary “The Last Case” which was presented in several festivals of Human Rights around the world. Since 2015 he works as a screening Officer at Vancouver YVR airport.
Also, Mr. Torres is part of several Vancouver-based musical bands where he plays percussion instruments. Regularly, he makes workshops and presentations about The Afro-Peruvian Cajon in different schools. He lives in Port Coquitlam with his wife and two children.
Everything was working out as a young Peruvian lawyer. I just got married and the future seems bright. At that time, I felt I had a mission in life, a strong purpose to live for. I was standing frequently before judges, making conferences, publishing articles and teaching at a university. I was living like a Formula 1 pilot. But soon I realized I was fighting against the biggest problems my society faces. Corruption, poverty, inefficiency is the saddest side of a magical continent. Soon I realized that I wanted a change and learn about the big world first hand. My wife and I left behind all what we were and began a dream even bigger.
We did not know much about Canada. We choose Vancouver because - on the map - it was located on top of California. We must believe in our instincts and at that time my instincts told me that I had to study English to survive. The toughest part, however, was to admit that I had lost my more important skill; the language. I felt like a fish outside the see. I still Remember my first conversation with a counsellor when I had just 3 days in the country. She told me, “never say again you are a professional, otherwise you will not get any job” That day something inside me broke down. Unconsciously, I started to believe that. Anyway, I had no English.
My first English class was at Level III. Even today I do not know how can they placed me at Level III. Perhaps because I knew the alphabet. I attended free Adults class in portable schools for the next four years without stopping. Of course, I got a job. A very basic one as a Baggage handler at YVR airport where I spent hours in a dark and cold mechanical station but I managed to use some of my free time studying in there.
Progressively, I improved my self confidence about the language and things began to change. I won an scholarship to study a program in First Nations Studies at the prestigious Justice Institute of BC. Months later I was doing a practicum in the Provincial Court as a First Nation legal advocate. Interestingly I was speaking before de Judge, again. I used all my savings and with the help of a Brazilian producer I made a Short documentary about a Peruvian Human rights case which was seen in many festivals around the world in 2013. I was playing drums and percussion with at least three different bands and I was making some money with this. At the same time I did workshops and presentations about Afroperuvian identity in some schools and my wife got a degree in UBC. As a miracle and regardless the crazy market situation, we bought a place where we now live along with our two kids. English is critical but a good attitude towards our new life was the real key.