YWCA Montreal Legal Information Clinic
Biography of Dinah Oliel
Dinah Oliel’s generosity knows no bounds—for over 25 years, she has selflessly devoted her time to the women and girls of Montreal. To Dinah, volunteering is quite simply a source of well-being and life.
Though she’ll humbly tell you that selfless service to others has always been at the very heart of her family values, volunteering for the same organization for so many years is no small feat!
Dinah Oliel is a skilled lawyer and head of her own law firm. For over two decades, she has volunteered to meet with disadvantaged women patrons at the YWCA Montreal’s Legal Information Clinic, where she spends half a day each week generously offering advice and expertise.
It’s a tremendous challenge given that she is consulted on a wide range of legal issues, including immigration, work, family, and housing law, to name a few. In light of typically steep legal fees, her support is clearly invaluable to hundreds of women.
Dinah Oliel believes that it’s crucial to advocate for women in times when they are most vulnerable, have scant resources and political power, or even have no place to go. She regards helping others out of concern for inclusion as essential because she feels fortunate in life and lucky to have had family and community support.
Over the years, Dinah is certainly one of the volunteers who has heard the most stories from women—many of which are heartbreaking. She recalls being especially touched by those who are vulnerable or psychologically distressed, often times caught in the cogs of a legal system that can be extremely complex.
Beyond her professional and volunteer work, she is no doubt most proud of her daughter, whom she adopted in China when she was merely a few months old. Emanuelle, now 17, has had to overcome behavioural symptoms of post-traumatic stress linked to very early experiences. Dinah’s tender care and patience helped her to “tame” her daughter and give her a new outlook on the world. With great pride in her eyes, she evokes Emanuelle’s current accomplishments: she had been accepted into a CEGEP program in early childhood education, and following in her mother footsteps, she volunteers for several organizations. It seems that a sense of justice and sharing runs in the family!
In the wise words of Dinah, “We all face difficulties no matter our age, sex, or religion.” In addition to being a feminist, Dinah is fundamentally humanist. All of us at the YWCA Montreal want to say thank you from the bottom of our hearts!