Long-time Legal Aid Alberta youth worker let go
Mark Cherrington announced on Twitter Sunday that after 25 years of service, he was let go.
Cherrington helped Edmonton’s most vulnerable, mostly youth.
Cherrington said that he felt blind-sided by the decision and that he was told he was let go due to restructuring.
“I’m disappointed with how legal aid treated me,” Cherrington said.
“I’ve never envisioned myself being outside of legal aid. I still have another good 20 years left in me.”
Cherrington said he has helped more than 20,000 families in the last couple decades.
He helped by driving young offenders to court, supporting them and was always just a phone call away, no matter what time of day.
“I’ve fought for these people in court houses and schools and hospitals and child welfare offices,” Cherrington said.
“I’ve been there for them at two in the afternoon, at two in the morning. I’ve gave out my home cell phone number.”
After he shared the news, hundreds offered words of support, including Dawn Johnson, a former client of Cherrington’s. She said that she met him when was just 13 years old.
“I was heavily street involved, I was sexually exploited and (I had) substance abuse issues,” Johnson said.
“I was in care and I started to do my healing. Mark was one of those people that helped me with healing.”
About 20 years later, Johnson has a completely different life. She lives in B.C. and has recently graduated from law school.
“I really credit him as the person that helped save my life. I don’t know, not only if I would be where I am at today if it wasn’t for him, or if I would be alive, period,” Johnson said.
Legal Aid Alberta declined an interview with Global News and wouldn’t comment specifically on this case, but said in a statement: “We have begun to change the way we do business and our new three-year strategic plan provides a clear path forward for Legal Aid Alberta to modernize its service delivery so clients receive quality services appropriate to their circumstances in a timely and efficient way,” said Andrew Livingstone, manager of Communications and Public Relations.
Cherrington is still answering calls, whether or not he has an official job.
“I’m still here, I’m not going away. I’m still picking up the phone at two in the morning.”
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