LAO Newsroom




First Nations community honours local clinic staff for LAO-supported outreach

Posted on: Friday, September 7, 2012


On July 6, local First Nations elders recognized Community Legal Assistance Sarnia (CLAS) employee Jeff Plain with the prestigious Eagle Feather, in honour of Plains outstanding outreach work supported by a two-year grant of $165,000 through Legal Aid Ontarios Innovation Fund with their communities.

Jeff helps Aboriginal youth navigate the sharp objects within the justice system, said CLASs Executive Director Andrew Bolter. Hes like a cultural ambassador, bridging the gaps in trust.


The Baamsedaa initiative


Mr. Plain, a Community Legal Worker at CLAS, developed the groundbreaking Baamsedaa (Lets Walk Together) initiative for CLAS in 2011.

A member of Aamjiwnaang First Nation, Plain assists CLASs Aboriginal clients one-on-one. He supports people from their initial intake at the clinic, right through to walking with each person as he or she seeks justice.


Building trust


This initiative has helped CLAS build trust between communities, reduce apprehensions and improve access to legal aid services for Aboriginal clients.

Many of our people have trust issues and avoid seeking justice, resulting in the potential for many negative effects on them or their families, added Plain. Providing outreach allows people to begin the process in a setting that is comfortable and enables them to build trust.


Educating the community


The Baamsedaa project also provides area community members, college students and youth with educational materials on basic legal information.

These materials cover Landlord & Tenant law, Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program denials and appeals, Employment Insurance issues, and human rights issues.


Questions

For questions or further information, please contact:

Kristian Justesen
Director, Communications and Public Affairs
Phone: 416-979-2352, ext.4782
Email: justesk@lao.on.ca and/or media@lao.on.ca