Law Foundation of Ontario invests in 17 Access to Justice Fund projects

Funded projects aim to benefit refugees and Indigenous people and to promote public legal education

Law Foundation of Ontario invests in 17 Access to Justice Fund projects

The Law Foundation of Ontario has issued grants amounting to almost $1.4 million, supported by class action cy-près awards, to 17 new Access to Justice Fund (ATJF) projects of non-profit organizations across Canada.

Among the funded projects, most seek to assist refugees in understanding and navigating the laws and claims processes unfamiliar to them, almost a third aim to promote culturally informed justice for Indigenous people involved with the justice system, and most of the remaining projects support public legal education and information targeting youth, people with disabilities and self-represented litigants.

In the spring of 2020, the foundation issued a call for applications for ATJF proposals addressing the legal needs of Indigenous peoples and refugees or focusing on public legal education, triage, brief services, referrals and tools to assist self-represented litigants.

According to the foundation’s news release, the following projects have received grants:

  1. National Self Represented Litigants Project Atlantic Chapter, Access to Justice & Law Reform Institute of Nova Scotia — $92,764
  2. Caring for Our Elders Project, Anishinabek Nation Union of Ontario Indians — $100,000
  3. Guides to Arrest and Detention: Police Interactions, British Columbia Civil Liberties Association — $100,000
  4. Know Your Rights Atlantic Canada, Canadian National Institute for the Blind Foundation — $75,000
  5. Empowering Refugees, Eliminating Barriers, and Combating Misinformation: Supporting Chinese Refugees through Education and Research, Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter — $75,000
  6. Restorative Justice in Environmental Law Project, East Coast Environmental Law Association — $18,400
  7. Indigenous Peoples’ Court of Peterborough, Elizabeth Fry Society of Peterborough — $44,930
  8. Borderless Connections, FCJ Refugee Centre — $98,000
  9. The HRC Legal Triage and Pro Bono Services Coordination project, Halifax Refugee Clinic — $96,000
  10. Youth Legal Help Project, Legal Information Society of Nova Scotia — $100,000
  11. Living Space Access & Diversion Project: Improving access to justice for marginalized people in Timmins and the Cochrane District, Living Space North Against Poverty — $100,000
  12. Clinique juridique des réfugiés, Mile End Legal Clinic — $89,000
  13. Website Overhaul and Redevelopment, New Brunswick Refugee Clinic — $24,725
  14. Gladue Report Writer, Nokiiwin Tribal Council — $100,000
  15. Indigenous Human Rights Program, Pro Bono Students Canada — $100,000
  16. Increasing Legal Referrals Through Front-line Workers, Reach Canada — $84,464
  17. Northern Ontario Legal Clinic for Migrants and Refugees, Thunder Bay Multicultural Association — $100,000

The Mile End Legal Clinic in Montreal, the Halifax Refugee Clinic and the Thunder Bay Multicultural Association are establishing pro bono legal clinics for refugees and non-status migrants.

The New Brunswick Refugee Clinic and the FCJ Refugee Centre in Toronto and southwestern Ontario seek to improve their capacity to deliver online and virtual services and multilingual legal education tools.

The Chinese Canadian National Council’s Toronto chapter will be offering language and cultural-specific training to Chinese refugees in Toronto, Hamilton, Kitchener, Niagara, Ottawa and York Region through online and in-person channels if allowed by the applicable public health guidelines.

The Elizabeth Fry Society in Peterborough is launching a provincial Indigenous Peoples’ Court.

The Nokiiwin Tribal Council in Thunder Bay aims to create more access to Gladue Writers for First Nation communities in northwestern Ontario. Living Space North Against Poverty in Timmins and Cochrane seeks to improve housing outcomes for Indigenous people who leave the criminal justice system and reduce the custody time for those awaiting bail.

Pro Bono Students Canada, together with the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres, will launch two human rights legal clinics at Friendship Centres in Toronto and Ottawa, pilot a database for tracking systemic human rights abuses against Indigenous peoples and offer inter-cultural competency and human rights training for lawyers and law students. Lastly, the East Coast Environmental Law Association will study how to utilize restorative justice processes to resolve environmental legal disputes and conflicts.

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