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Aboriginal Justice Strategy Update

2008-09 initiatives achieved, more to come this year

Posted on: Wednesday, September 16 /2009


In 2007, Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) began development of its Aboriginal Justice Strategy to measurably improve LAO services to Aboriginal people within three to five years. We took on a number of initiatives last year, and this year we are doing more.


AN UPDATE ON THE 2008-2009 INITIATIVES:

The 2008-2009 initiatives are complete or are now operating. For example, we now ask all certificate applicants if they identify as First Nations, Mtis or Inuit. We have also been offering a five-hour extension of legal aid certificate coverage for Gladue submissions in criminal matters since May 3, 2009.

We created and distributed a brochure on access to justice called "Why it is important to tell your lawyer you are Aboriginal". It is available in PDF and HTML versions on-line in English and French.

Over 200 LAO and clinic staff throughout the province have received two-day Aboriginal cultural competency training, and over 75 provincial office staff have attended half-day Aboriginal awareness training sessions. These training initiatives are helping to increasing understanding and awareness of Aboriginal clients and the legal issues they face.


THE 2009-2010 INITIATIVES INCLUDE:

  1. Continuing to deliver Aboriginal cultural competency training to staff;
  2. Aboriginal Mentorship Program;
  3. Continuing legal education for lawyers on specific issues affecting Aboriginal clients;
  4. A communication plan and strategy;
  5. Public legal information, such as brochures and on-line resources;
  6. Lawyer Workforce Strategy recruitment, targeting Aboriginal legal talent;
  7. Defining success measures;
  8. Operational Advisory and Implementation Committee.

For more information, please feel free to contact:

Christa Big Canoe, Policy Counsel or
Felice Lambermont, Project Manager
Legal Aid Ontario
Atrium on Bay
40 Dundas Street West, Suite 200
Toronto, ON M5G 2H1
aboriginalstrategy@lao.on.ca