We are also improving lives by working with partner organizations on innovative projects that will lead to positive, long-term changes in their communities. Our partnerships are based on mutual respect and mutual responsibility. These projects are lead by our partners with our role focused on helping to build capacity in areas where Canadian lawyers have specific expertise. Some examples of our projects are set out below:
PROJECTS IN CANADA
Dare to Dream: Empowering Aboriginal Youth
Canadian Lawyers Abroad’s “Dare to Dream” project is an innovative program that engages the Canadian legal and business community in initiatives that support and empower Aboriginal students and their families, help them achieve their dreams, and contribute to their communities. This program is also designed to increase the number of opportunities for Aboriginal law students, promote diversity in the legal and business community and foster a greater understanding of Aboriginal culture and issues. This program engages CLA’s network of lawyers and law students from across the country, as well as members of like-minded organizations such as the Indigenous Bar Association.
Dare to Dream is a multi-faceted program that includes the following activities:
1. Outreach through public legal education and mentoring activities to support Aboriginal youth and their families. Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal lawyers and law students will participate in justice education initiatives and a mentoring program in partnership with local schools with a significant Aboriginal population. The goal is to give Aboriginal students meaningful opportunities to interact with law students and lawyers who will serve as role models and mentors, help increase their knowledge about law and justice issues, and introduce them to law and law-related careers. CLA is working with the Indigenous Bar Association and the Ontario Justice Education Network to develop outreach material that incorporates Aboriginal themes and uses innovative delivery methods (mock trials; sentencing circles). This initiative is being piloted in Calgary and Toronto in the Fall of 2012. CLA’s partners include our Gold Sponsor: GE Capital; our Bronze Sponsors: McMillan LLP and TransCanada Corporation; as well as Blake, Cassels and Graydon LLP; the Law Society of Upper Canada; Norton Rose LLP and the RBC Foundation.
2. Internship opportunities for law students to spend the summer working with Aboriginal communities and organizations that support Aboriginal people. Current internships are with the Nunavut Legal Services Board in Iqaluit and Rankin Inlet, with the Law Society of Nunavut, with the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council and with the Behdzi Ahda First Nation in the Northwest Territories. CLA is developing new internships in partnership with the Indigenous Bar Association and the Canadian Human Rights Commission whereby Aboriginal law students will assist First Nations governments in identifying and addressing human rights issues.
3. Increased opportunities for Aboriginal law students. In addition to providing opportunities for Aboriginal law students through our internship program, CLA is also encouraging businesses and law firms to promote diversity in their ranks by hiring Aboriginal law students. Providing increased work opportunities for Aboriginal students not only increases diversity in the legal profession, it increases the legal community’s knowledge and awareness about Aboriginal culture and history.
To find out more, read this blog post.
Pro Bono project partnering the Legal Services Board of Nunavut with Borden Ladner Gervais LLP
CLA has developed an exciting partnership with the Legal Services Board (LSB) of Nunavut and Borden Ladner Gervais LLP to develop public legal education material. Lawyers and law students from BLG are working with the LSB to develop radio scripts in the area of poverty law (e.g., family law, wills and estates) that the LSB can use to increase access to justice for Nunavummiut.
The LSB is the territorial organization that delivers legal aid in Nunavut. It provides criminal, family, child welfare, as well as civil and poverty legal services to Nunavummiut through three regional clinics. The LSB participates in CLA’s Summer Internship Program with CLA students working at the Iqaluit and Rankin Inlet clinics. Madeleine Redfern, the mayor of Iqaluit and a member of the CLA, helped develop this partnership in her role as Chair of the LSB.
Furthering public legal education is part of the LSB’s mandate and is essential to increasing Nunavummiuts’ access to justice. The LSB has had great success in the past in providing public legal education material with a weekly radio show, supplemented with local community radio appearances by counsel who are on circuit. Radio is the medium of choice to disseminate information for a number of reasons including the size of the territory, relatively high levels of illiteracy, and its accessibility. Additional radio shows will have a positive impact, in particular providing key legal information for individuals in remote communities who are not able to readily consult with a legal professional.
Ghana University Legal Clinic Project
Canadian Lawyers Abroad has entered into a partnership with the KNUST Faculty of Law in Kumasi, Ghana and the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa to establish a pilot University Legal Clinic at the KNUST Faculty of Law. Through the University Legal Clinic, marginalized groups in Kumasi will receive legal assistance and information that they would not otherwise be able to access or afford. Moreover, KNUST law students can receive critical real-life training and be inspired to use these new-found skills to further serve their own community. By providing access to desperately needed legal information and services, this project will empower poor and marginalized groups, in particular women and youth and help them become and engaged members of society. In the long-term, by promoting the rule of law and protecting human rights, this project will help reduce poverty and promote economic development in Ghana. For more information about the project click here.
African and Canadian Women’s Human Rights Project
The African and Canadian Women’s Human Rights Project (ACWHRP) was happily housed at CLA for the first phase of its work on its criminalization of marital rape and customary law project. The ACWHRP involved a collaborative partnership of African women’s human rights NGO’s and academics from Ghana, Kenya and Malawi working with Canadian human rights experts. ACWHRP held a very successful customary law and marital rape workshop in Kenya in February 2010 and produced research papers looking at the relationship between customary law and women’s rights and the legal treatment of marital rape. These papers can be found here.
During its first phase, the ACWHRP was generously supported by: the Department of Justice Canada; the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Fasken Martineau, and the Stephen Lewis Foundation.
ACWHRP has now incorporated as an independent non-profit organization, and will continue its human rights work independent of CLA. ACWHRP is appreciative of CLA’s support and the opportunity to have grown at CLA, and CLA is proud to have housed ACWHRP during its initial growth period. Both CLA and ACWHRP look forward to continuing to work together in the future. ACWHRP is now operating under the new name, “the equality effect”. For more information about the equality effect and its projects, please see the equality effect’s website.
Kosovo Supreme Court Reports
CLA-ACE was very pleased with the success of its pilot pro bono project with the Kosovo Law Center and Heenan Blaikie LLP to produce the Kosovo Supreme Court Reports. This project was designed to increase the transparency of Kosovo’s legal system, improve the written product of the Supreme Court and lower courts, contribute to safeguarding the independence and impartiality of the judiciary, and allow Kosovars to follow and understand important case law. The project received considerable attention and was the subject of an article in the May 2006 edition of The Lawyers Weekly. Read the Lawyers Weekly article about CLA and this project.
To read more about our past projects, check out our Project Archives.