Legal Aid Ontario and Aboriginal Legal Services sign new service agreement

Published: January 11, 2023

January 11, 2022 – Aboriginal Legal Services (ALS) and Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) are pleased to announce that they entered into a new service agreement, under the Legal Aid Services Act, 2020, on Dec. 8.

The new service agreement renews LAO and ALS’ commitment to delivering legal aid services that are trauma-informed, culturally safe and culturally relevant to the Indigenous community. Under the new agreement, LAO will increase its investment in the legal aid services and programs ALS delivers. LAO will also provide ALS with funding for new criminal and child protection services to better support the needs of Indigenous communities in the Greater Toronto Area and the needs of Indigenous people in the criminal justice and child protection systems.

LAO recognizes that ALS is a unique service provider, and its uniqueness is reflected in the new service agreement. The agreement commits ALS and LAO to ongoing, open dialogue and to continuing to discuss issues of mutual interest and concern relating to the funding and delivery of legal aid services by ALS.

Quotes

“ALS is pleased to announce the renewal of its relationship with LAO and the signing of a new-and-improved service plan. Truth and reconciliation requires both relationship building and action, and we at ALS commend LAO for the part it played in the new service agreement and for its enduring commitment to work with ALS to respond to the pressing needs of Indigenous people and communities. This is a momentous step for both of our organizations and I look forward to achieving more together for Indigenous peoples in Ontario.”

Jessie Stirling, (former) Board President, Aboriginal Legal Services

“For years, ALS has amassed expertise in criminal law and how law impacts our people, families, and communities. Expanding ALS’ services into criminal and child protection will enable us to use our own complementary services to divert and support Indigenous people in Toronto. When needed, it will allow us to represent them from a place of Indigenous knowledge and perspective. This is a significant starting point and we believe that it is just the beginning. We will continue to expand and grow so we can provide Indigenous people and families additional support and help achieve outcomes that better reflect the communities’ needs.”

Christa Big Canoe, Legal Advocacy Director, Aboriginal Legal Services

“LAO is looking forward to the positive impact of this new service agreement, which represents both a stronger partnership between ALS and LAO and a deeper investment in improved justice outcomes for vulnerable Indigenous people. It is also an extension of our commitment to our Truth and Reconciliation initiatives. We admire the important role that ALS has played in providing justice for Indigenous communities, and we are pleased to support their service delivery as they assist those dealing with criminal or child protection cases. This agreement embodies our values of inclusion, accountability, and access to justice, and these values will continue to inform our open dialogue with ALS.”

David Field, President and CEO, and Rod Strain, Vice President of Clinic Law Services

About Aboriginal Legal Services

For more than 30 years, ALS has been a leading non-profit organization supporting Indigenous people and communities, and a national leader in Indigenous justice and advocacy. ALS is an Indigenous Legal Services Organization under the Legal Aid Services Act, 2020 that has provided legal and justice related services funded in part by LAO since 1990. Their innovative and Indigenous community-led justice programs like Community Council, Gladue reports and caseworkers, and Giiwedin Anang complement the legal services they provide to the Indigenous community in clinic law areas as well as litigation, inquest work, law reform, and community advocacy.

www.aboriginallegal.ca

About Legal Aid Ontario

LAO provides legal help in English and French for financially eligible low-income Ontarians, providing high-quality legal services in family law, refugee and immigration law, criminal law, and mental health law. LAO also provides funding to 72 independent legal clinics and seven student legal services organizations throughout the province.