Life and Legacy
Ms. Barry Yake received a bachelor of arts degree in 1950 from the University of Saskatchewan. She went back to university in her forties after her kids were in school. In addition to the challenges of balancing school and raising her family, she was in constant pain after sustaining a severe back injury in a motor vehicle accident. In 1973, Ms. Barry Yake obtained a master's degree in education from the University of Alberta and remained at the University of Alberta to attend law school.
Near the end of law school, Ms. Barry Yake was diagnosed with final stage skin cancer and was tremendously challenged by the disease and related medical treatments. She did not immediately find an articling position following graduation, but was able to get permission from the Law Society to start the bar admission course in October 1976. On December 22, 1976, she was taken on as an articling student by Harold (Hal) W. Veale, QC, who was very proud to be her principal.
In April 1977, she passed her bar exam with a few months of articling behind her. She obtained robes in anticipation of her bar admission ceremony, however, she was too ill to attend. On January 12, 1978, at the age of 49, Ms. Barry Yake died of cancer and never had the opportunity to wear her robes in court.
Five years after her death, her daughter Susan Yake Phillippe, QC was admitted to the bar and honoured to wear her mother's robes. She wore them for three decades until her appointment as Queen's Counsel in 2014, when she replaced them with silk.
Ms. Barry Yake never got to wear her robes in court but her legacy and her robes continue to appear in Alberta court rooms forty years after her passing.
Iris Barry Yake Memorial Robe Bank
Ms. Barry Yake’s robes, purchased in anticipation of her bar call, were the first robes donated to the Robe Bank, which originated in Edmonton at the initiative of Bencher Moira Váně.
Heather Spicer has expanded the initiative to Calgary and has been assisted by LEAD Alberta
, an organization devoted to increasing equity in the profession.
In Edmonton, the Iris Barry Yake Robe Bank is now set up to receive donations and space in the Courthouse has been secured to place them there. Courts in Calgary and Lethbridge have also started collecting court clothes to create their own robe banks.
The Robe Bank is accepting donations of robes, waistcoats, and tabs. They are also considering the purchase of dickie style shirts.
To Donate Robes
Calgary: Freshly dry-cleaned gowns and waistcoats can be dropped off at DLA Piper. Please contact Katrina Edgerton-McGhan
(403.999.4714) to make arrangements. To arrange to have your gowns picked up from your home or work, please contact Heather Spicer